First Steps to Engaging

Who Should I Be Engaging?

These are four considerations when you are identifying potential patient/public partners for your research project.

Ask yourself:

  1. “Who is affected differently by this health issue?”  Consider things like: gender expression, race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, Indigeneity, culture, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigrant status, age, religion, location, etc.
  2.  “Who has different access to health care services associated with this health issue?” Think about geographical barriers (i.e. urban/rural) and systemic barriers (i.e. colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, classism, etc.).
  3. “Where are patients at with their health issue?” People who have recently developed a health issue will likely have a very different perspective than someone who has had it for years. Engagement may be more appropriate or feasible at different times depending on the health issue.
  4. “How can I ensure a diversity of perspectives are involved in my research project?” The best way to determine what participatory approaches will be the most inclusive is to talk with communities and ask how they would prefer to be engaged.


To learn more, check out our blog post: How Do I Find People to Involve in My Health Research?

5 Key Reminders about Engagement

  1. The Earlier the Better – Start engagement at the earliest possible stage of the research project.
  2. Be Accessible – It takes time and effort to build these relationships.
  3. Choose an Inclusive Participatory Approach – The appropriate method depends on the research and the people you are working with. Remember to ask your patient/public partners how they prefer to be engaged.
  4. Safety First – Have a discussion about safety and safe spaces with your research team including patient/public partners. What does safety mean to everyone, what does it look like and what does it feel like? Understand that experiential knowledge shared by patient/public partners may be intertwined with experiences of trauma, so the importance of having appropriate supports (e.g. counselors, Elders, etc.) present is very important.

  5. Ensure People Feel Supported – Ask how you can help meet patient/public partners' needs, and provide them with necessary resources.


To learn more, check out our blog post: Five Point Checklist When Planning for Patient Engagement