Supporting the evaluation of public and patient engagement in health system organizations: Results from an implementation research study
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BACKGROUND: As citizens, patients and family members are participating in numerous and expanding roles in health system organizations, attention has turned to evaluating these efforts. The context-specific nature of engagement requires evaluation tools to be carefully designed for optimal use. We sought to address this need by assessing the appropriateness and feasibility of a generic tool across a range of health system organizations, engagement activities and patient groups. METHODS: We used a mixed-methods implementation research design to study the implementation of an engagement evaluation tool in seven health system organizations in Ontario, Canada focusing on two key implementation outcome variables: appropriateness and feasibility. Data were collected through respondent feedback questions (binary and open-ended) at the end of the tool's three questionnaires as well as interviews and debriefing discussions with engagement professionals and patient partners from collaborating organizations. RESULTS: The three questionnaires comprising the evaluation tool were collectively administered 29 times to 405 respondents yielding a 52% response rate (90% and 53% of respondents respectively assessed the survey's appropriateness and feasibility [quantitatively or qualitatively]). The questionnaires' basic properties were rated highly by all respondents. Concrete suggestions were provided for improving the appropriateness and feasibility of the questionnaires (or components within) for different engagement activity and organization types, and for enhancing the timing of implementation. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Our study findings offer guidance for health system organizations and evaluators to support the optimal use of engagement evaluation tools across a variety of health system settings, engagement activities and respondent groups.
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