Document Type: Commentary
Center of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public, University of Montreal Hospital Research Center (CRCHUM), Montreal, QC, Canada
Patient engagement practices are increasingly incorporated in health research, governance, and care. More recently, a large number of evaluation tools and metrics have been developed to support engagement evaluation. This growing interest in evaluation reflects a maturation of the patient engagement field, moving from a “craft” to a reflective “art and science,” with more explicit expected benefits and risks, better understood conditions for success and failure, and increasingly rigorous evaluation instruments to improve engagement theories and interventions. It also supports a more critical view of engagement science, moving beyond reductionist views of engagement as a “black box technology” to a more subtle view of this broad category of complex interventions. Structured evaluation can advance patient engagement by supporting more reflective partnerships between patients, clinicians, health system leaders and citizens. This can help clarify mutual (and potentially contradictory) expectations toward engagement, provide a reality check toward claims of benefits and harms, and increase health systems’ capacity to implement effective engagement practices over time. To do so, closer collaborations are required between engagement scientists and practitioners to align the theories, practice and evaluation of patient and community engagement.