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Health Expect. 2003 Sep;6(3):189-97.

Evolving the multiple roles of 'patients' in health-care research: reflections after involvement in a trial of shared decision-making.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK.



This paper offers 'consumer-led' reflections by steering group members of a patient-centred research study involving consumer advocates, patients' associations and patients, throughout the whole study, from pre- to post-study phases. ORIGINAL STUDY DESIGN: The study: 'Shared decision making and risk communication in general practice' incorporated systematic reviews, psychometric evaluation of outcome measures, and quantitative, qualitative and health economic analyses of a cluster randomized trial of professional skill development, all informed by consumer and patient engagement.


The work was produced by a wide collaboration led by researchers from the Department of General Practice, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, including a consumers' advisory group and a patients' association. The study participants were 20 general practitioners from Gwent, their practice staff, and almost 800 patients at these practices.


Consumers and patients contributed to several stages of the research from inception and design, securing of funding, implementation of the protocol, and interpretation and dissemination of the findings. 'Patient involvement' research initiatives that include an equally wide variety of 'user' participants as 'health-professional' participants, accountable to a 'Health in Partnership' funded project, require a user-led viewpoint to be presented and disseminated. This paper presents reflections on the processes of the research, the interpretations of study findings by the involved parties, and notes how this model is fundamental to effective research in the field of patient-centred health care if future practice, policy and research are to change.

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