World Café is a technique that encourages patient/public partners to come together in simultaneous rounds of conversation about research decisions that matter most to them such as: “What outcome measures are most important and need to be addressed in the research?”, “How should data be collected so that it is appropriate, acceptable and sensitive to the very real context in which patients and informal caregivers live, work and play?” and “How will we evaluate overall success of the research project?”. The process is based on the way groups of people naturally converse with one another in a social café style setting. Though it may seem like an informal presentation, there are seven underlying principles:
1. Set the Context;
2. Create Safe and Accessible Spaces;
3. Explore Research Decisions that Matter to People;
4. Encourage Everyone to Contribute;
5. Connect Diverse Perspectives;
6. Listen Together for Patterns and Insights;
7. Share Collective Discoveries and Decisions.
World Cafés can be useful for:
- Creating a safe space for individuals who normally would not be together to have meaningful discussions around research decisions — such as outcomes that matter most to them and that should be part of the research design.
- Highlighting common threads and bringing them to light so research decisions and evaluation reflects the needs of people with lived experience of the health issue.
Note: Make sure to prepare compelling questions for discussion at each table that are designed to begin at a general level (e.g. “What helps you most when it comes to day-to-day living?”) and then move toward more focused questions around the research decision to be made (e.g. “What outcome measures should we include in the research project?”). Participants can move to new tables and connect with new individuals and perspectives/experiential knowledge. Table hosts meet and greet patient/public partners as they arrive at the table, remind people to allow everyone a turn at giving feedback, and taking notes about the conversation.
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