Creativity + real-world examples = fun

Mixing real-world examples with creativity, energy and ideas combined for an interactive – and fun – workshop for trainees on patient-engagement in research. Michael McGillion, co-lead, along with Rebecca Ganann, and Carley Ouelette from McMaster University’s Faculty of Nursing and Tara McCready, Population Health Research Institute, discussed his team’s approach.

“Our goal was to make it fun, to demystify patient engagement. How do we make it happen, make it authentic and enjoyable for people? I think we succeeded.”

The Spark
I was one of the guest editors of the OSSU-CMAJ Supplement. There is a lot of theoretical information about patient engagement but people struggle with the practical aspect. So we thought we could use the supplement as a training tool to share practical lessons on how to do patient engagement.

The workshop was targeted to trainees in southwestern Ontario, including graduate students from nursing, medicine and other health disciplines as well as research coordinators.

Interactive format
We used the supplement to set the context and moved into a discussion of how to do it, with people presenting learnings from several IMPACT projects.

“Fireside chats”
We wanted trainees to hear from patient partners about ideal practices on how to help patient engagement be successful. “Keeping up with the Joanses” featured two patient partners from the hospital to home transition seniors project. It is really important that the patient partner voice is front and centre. They spoke about things like “make sure there is enough time, comfortable seating, and about appreciating a patient partner: if you elicit feedback from a patient, make sure you design follow up and show how feedback was integrated into the research – show it was valued.” That was fun and the students had lots of questions.

Students were given a case study and asked to create a patient engagement plan, considering challenges and how to mitigate. After they presented their plans, we then told them what actually happened as the cases actually came from the supplement.

In a “Three-minute theses game”, complete with a big countdown clock, students had three minutes to present their ideas followed by a three-minute brainstorm. It was a great exercise because the trainees had wonderful ideas.

Takeaway message
It’s okay to be creative. Patient engagement should be authentic. There aren’t prescribed ways to involve people, there is no template, but a variety of ways to involve patients.

What’s next?
A workshop in Ottawa, with more planned for other parts of province.

The last word
People were really engaged, we had tons of interaction, activity and ideas. It was a great day.

Dr. Michael McGillion, McMaster University