Background: The effects of stakeholder engagement, particularly in comparative effectiveness trials, have not been widely reported. In 2014, eight comparative effectiveness studies targeting African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos with uncontrolled asthma were funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) as part of its Addressing Disparities Program. Awardees were required to meaningfully involve patients and other stakeholders. Using specific examples, we describe how these stakeholders substantially changed the research protocols and in other ways participated meaningfully as full partners in the development and conduct of the eight studies. Methods: Using the method content analysis of cases, we identified themes regarding the types of stakeholders, methods of engagement, input from the stakeholders, changes made to the research protocols and processes, and perceived benefits and challenges of the engagement process. We used summaries from meetings of the eight teams, results from an engagement survey, and the final research reports as our data source to obtain detailed information. The descriptive data were assessed by multiple reviewers using inductive and deductive qualitative methods and discussed in the context of engagement literature. Results: Stakeholders participated in the planning, conduct, and dissemination phases of all eight asthma studies. All the studies included clinicians and community representatives as stakeholders. Other stakeholders included patients with asthma, their caregivers, advocacy organizations, and health-system representatives. Engagement was primarily by participation in advisory boards, although six of the eight studies (75%) also utilized focus groups and one-on-one interviews. Difficulty finding a time and location to meet was the most reported challenge to engagement, noted by four of the eight teams (50%). Other reported challenges and barriers to engagement included recruitment of stakeholders, varying levels of enthusiasm among stakeholders, controlling power dynamics, and ensuring that stakeholder involvement was reflected and had true influence on the project. Conclusion: Engagement-driven modifications led to specific changes in study design and conduct that were felt to have increased enrollment and the general level of trust and support of the targeted communities. The level of interaction described, between investigators and stakeholders in each study and between investigator-stakeholder groups, is—we believe—unprecedented and may provide useful guidance for other studies seeking to improve the effectiveness of community-driven research.
- Asthma research
- Comparative effectiveness research
- Patient-oriented research
- Stakeholder engagement