Stakeholder engagement is a growing trend in various fields, including urban planning, software development, and beyond. At its core is the recognition that citizens possess valuable knowledge and experience that can contribute to finding solutions to a variety of problems. While citizens may not have all the answers, their firsthand experiences can be invaluable to researchers.
One promising approach to harnessing the power of citizen knowledge is through citizen engagement. It involves a partnership or dialogue between citizens and researchers rather than simply being researched. The goal of this approach is to shift power from researchers and institutions to empower people, which has garnered global interest and policy support due to its potential to improve research outcomes.
Citizen engagement can help researchers better understand their target audience and research interests, guiding the definition of research problems and ideation. Citizens can also contribute to the conceptualization, design, and creation of prototypes. Additionally, citizens can assist with study recruitment and interpretation of results, helping to mitigate researchers' biases and improve the quality and impact of research findings.
Patients live with health problems and experience the entire spectrum of care, while healthcare professionals have insight into daily wellbeing services. This means they both have unique perspectives on healthcare, making them experts on the lived experience. By enabling patients and healthcare professionals to voice their experiences and take the lead in identifying problems, we can recognize their valuable contributions to establishing solutions. This approach can be a powerful way to develop new products and services with and for them.
Therefore, this is an invitation to citizens to participate in research as partners or participants. It is also an invitation to every researcher to view citizens as active agents during the production of scientific evidence. By working collaboratively with citizens, researchers can generate high-quality, impactful research with citizen-centred and meaningful findings.
A quick summary of the potential benefits for the citizens:
- Supports individual empowerment, self-worth, self-confidence, self‐determination, self‐esteem, and self‐care
- Experience of being valued, meaningful, and listened to
- Learning from one's own health problems and developing life management skills
- Learning from research and creating trust towards researchers
- A sense of community among citizens through engagement
- Acquiring and sharing knowledge, and promoting health
Saija Inkeroinen, MHSc, BHSc, PHN, RN
Doctoral researcher, Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, Finland
Carla V. Leite, MSc, BSc
Doctoral researcher, Digital Media and Interaction Research Centre (DigiMedia) & Department of Communication and Art, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Visiting Researcher, Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, Finland
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