Patients, consumers, citizens, clients, customers, lay people, advocates, representatives, call them what you will. The participation of health service users in both healthcare research and healthcare delivery has been discussed and debated on many fronts over the years. Terminology and semantics aside (I like the term “health partners” myself), engagement and participation of this vaguely and inconsistently defined and highly variable group of people are challenging to say the least!
Hospitals and the health professionals and other staff who work in them across the world are under tremendous pressure and the services they provide are as much about caring as about treatment. At the end of the day it is really about people working together (health professionals, patients, their family, friends, carers, and so on) to achieve a common goal – hence my predilection for the term “partners.” It is a complex process of human interactions, on many levels and frequently involving several different people. Needless to say, there is much room for error and improvement but also equally there are many aspects of this process to be celebrated.
In this issue of PACEsetterS we have several interviews with people from around the world who are working with consumers in different ways. Associate Professor Dawn Stacey, based in Canada, outlined for us some of the work she has been involved with in generating patient decision aids and decision coaching. Sarah Buckland, Director of INVOLVE in the UK, spoke to us about the role of the public in improving the quality and relevance of healthcare research and the important contribution they can make. And Andrea Cornwall brings some unique perspectives derived from time spent in Brazil on the positioning of health consumers and how they might be involved in developing and evolving the healthcare system.
In addition to this we also have some interesting consumer sheets and recommended practices for you as well as our usual COnNECT the Dots and RE: Members columns.
The PACEsetterS team is very excited about the year ahead and we look forward to bringing you more interesting stories and evidence-based information to assist you in your daily practice. Wishing you a productive and rewarding 2012!