Study Circles are small groups of approximately seven to twelve patients/public/community members that meet multiple times for discussions about a decision around the research process (e.g. “What outcomes should be looked at in the research?” “How do we interpret the research findings?”, etc.). The meetings are structured in away that the subsequent sessions build on discussions from the previous sessions. The group of patients/public/community members should be inclusive and open to diverse perspectives. Discussions should be monitored and supported by a professionally trained facilitator.
Three Main Elements:
1. Organizing that brings individuals to the table: patient/public/community representatives work with researchers to design the Study Circle process, set goals, and plan a launch that includes diverse communities in dialogue. Additionally, through the Study Circle discussions research decisions will be developed.
2. The dialogue over several session: several small groups of patients/public/community members gather for the purpose of discussing the research decision, and what matters most to them.
3. Movement from dialogue to collaborative action: conversations lead to concrete ideas and actions around the research project (e.g. “These are the priority areas we would like researched" "These are the outcomes we would like to be investigated” and "This is how we interpret the research findings”). Research teams that include patients/public/community members, health policy makers, health care professionals, health decision makers and researchers can work together to put the decisions made from the Study Circles into action.
Study Circles can be useful for:
- Bringing together patients/public/community members with diverse perspectives to collaboratively make a decision around the research process.
- Encouraging group learning around the research topic and sharing of diverse experiential knowledge.