There are many different ways to involve consumers and community members in research. Below are examples of the different methods used within the Consumer and Community Involvement Program.
A community expo is an opportunity for consumers, community members and researchers to come together to get a ‘taste’ of research being conducted within a particular group or organisation.
WRITING OR COMMENTING ON DOCUMENTS
Involving consumers or community members to review documents associated with the research can assist in producing documents that can be easily understood. It can also be very helpful in identifying jargon and acronyms.
GRANT APPLICATION REVIEWERS
Involving consumer and/or community organisations to review pamphlets, brochures, information sheets, consent forms or writing lay summaries of research projects can assist in producing documents that can be easily understood by health consumers or community members. It can be very helpful in ‘detecting’ jargon and acronyms.
Consumers and/or community members are increasingly involved in providing a consumer or community perspective on grant applications. Organisations such as state based Cancer Councils and Cancer Australia require researchers to state how they will involve consumers in their research in grant applications. They have developed guidelines for consumer review of their grant applications and consumers are involved in all aspects of their research grant allocation process.
CONSUMER AND COMMUNITY FORUMS
This involves holding one-off or occasional meetings with community members or consumers who have a common or shared interest to ask for their views or input. This could be about the design of:
- A specific project
- Community issues
- Priorities for new research
- The potential impact or benefit to the community
- Research results or findings
CONSUMERS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS IN RESEARCH TEAMS
This is commonly referred to as having a consumer or community representative. If using this method, try to involve at least two consumers or community members. Being the only consumer or community member on a research team can be daunting, particularly if the group is large.
Research buddies are consumers or community members who provide links between the researcher, other consumers and community members, organisations or the research funder.
Reference groups are groups of consumers or community members that can be referred to throughout the course of a research project.
These are groups of stakeholders who steer and influence the research project. It will have more influence and involvement than a reference group, which only provides advice.
CONSUMER AND COMMUNITY RESEARCHERS
These are consumers or community members who have been trained to work with researchers to conduct all or part of the research.
CONSUMER AND COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCILS
Consumer and community advisory councils (councils) provide advice at a strategic level across an organisation. They support partnerships between researchers, consumers and community members. Councils aim to enhance research through consumer and community involvement.