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Increasing consumer engagement: tools to engage service users in quality improvement or implementation efforts.

Woodward EN, Ball IA, Willging C, Singh RS, Scanlon C, Cluck D, Drummond KL, Landes SJ, Hausmann LRM, Kirchner JE. Increasing consumer engagement: tools to engage service users in quality improvement or implementation efforts. Frontiers in Health Services. 2023 Jul 25; 3:1124290.

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INTRODUCTION: Engaging service users or consumers in quality improvement or implementing a new service is important across settings and may reduce health inequities. Implementation strategies leveraging consumer engagement are neither commonly used nor robustly operationalized in implementation science. Implementers (e.g., middle managers, facilitators) want to involve consumers in implementation activities, but do not always feel confident in how to proceed. We developed a compendium of tools called Consumer Voice to guide others how to engage consumers in design/delivery of implementation strategies. Although generalizable to other settings, we developed Consumer Voice within the context of implementing suicide prevention treatments in healthcare to reach rural U.S. military veterans, as there are suicide inequities for people in rural areas. METHODS: We developed Consumer Voice using a multistep process and human-centered design methods. In between steps, a design team met to generate insights from data, and decide which prototypes to create/refine. In preliminary work, we conducted a scan of examples in healthcare of patient engagement in implementation activities and interviewed two implementation experts about preferred learning styles. In Step 1, we interviewed 26 participants with experience in community engagement, implementation, or lived experience as a rural U.S. veteran with suicidal thoughts/behavior. In Step 2, 11 implementers beta tested prototypes then share feedback in focus groups. In Step 3, we reconvened participants from prior steps to review tools and, using nominal group technique, prioritized remaining recommendations. RESULTS: Consumer Voice is online, modular, and nonlinear for self-guided learning tailored to beginner, intermediate, or advanced experience with consumer engagement. Tools consist of slides, audiovisual content with written text, and templates. Findings indicated there is not one "right" way to engage consumers in implementation activities, rather that implementers wanted tools showcasing core principles for consumer engagement and practical ideas. DISCUSSION: Consumer Voice can be used by implementers to reflect and decide on how to apply consumer engagement implementation strategies to improve equitable dissemination and uptake of evidence-based practices. Most insights generated by user data were explicitly to build trust between consumers and professionals representing institutions, which may be one component to reducing healthcare inequities.

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