Two methods for engaging with the community in setting priorities for child health research: Who engages?

W. Rikkers, K.B. De Haan, David Lawrence, Anne Mckenzie, Kirsten Hancock, Hayley Haines, D. Christensen, Stephen Zubrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background

Community participation in research is recognised as an important part of the research process; however, there has been inconsistency in its implementation and application in Australia. The Western Australian Telethon Kids Institute Participation Program employs a range of methods for fostering active involvement of community members in its research. These include public discussion forums, called Community Conversations. While participation levels are good, the attendees represent only a sub-section of the Western Australian population. Therefore, we conducted a telephone survey of randomly selected households to evaluate its effectiveness in eliciting views from a broader cross-section of the community about our research agenda and community participation in research, and whether the participants would be representative of the general population. We also conducted two Conversations, comparing the survey as a recruitment tool and normal methods using the Participation Program.

Results

While the telephone survey was a good method for eliciting community views about research, there were marked differences in the profile of study participants compared to the general population (e.g. 78% vs 50% females). With a 26% response rate, the telephone survey was also more expensive than a Community Conversation. The cold calling approach proved an unsuccessful recruitment method, with only two out of a possible 816 telephone respondents attending a Conversation.

Conclusion

While the results showed that both of the methods produced useful input for our research program, we could not conclude that either method gained input that was representative of the entire community. The Conversations were relatively low-cost and provided more in-depth information about one subject, whereas the telephone survey provided information across a greater range of subjects, and allowed more quantitative analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalPLoS One
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2015

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