How Does Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) Connect Stakeholder Engagement and Teamwork?

“Whether the aim of a given research project is to advance fundamental knowledge or to develop actionable solutions to real-world problems, scientific initiatives are increasingly turning to collaboration to achieve their goals.”

- Hall, Vogel, and Croyle, 2019

A core aspect of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) is the engagement of stakeholders as equal members of the research team. Team research has grown in popularity over the past few decades. Researchers in a variety of fields are learning that they can increase the meaningfulness and usefulness of their findings by working with teams of individuals with diverse expertise and perspectives. Helping a diverse team reach its full potential, however, requires its own set of skills.

The information and resources in this learning package have been developed by or adapted from stakeholder engagement practices and team science evidence and are informed by diversity and inclusion principles.

Stakeholder Engagement

PCORI defines stakeholder engagement as the meaningful involvement of patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders throughout the entire research process—from planning and conducting the study to disseminating study results. Knowledge gained from experience with PCOR studies is adding to best practices to guide future efforts. Along with researchers interested in the use of stakeholders in PCOR, PCORI has studied and evaluated the engagement of stakeholders in the PCOR studies it funds to better understand:

  • Methods to meaningfully involve stakeholders in research teams.
  • How engagement efforts influence the research process and study findings.
  • Contributors to a satisfying research experience for both stakeholders and researchers.
  • Common challenges and solutions for engaging stakeholders.

Learn more about Stakeholder Engagement

More information on the value of engagement in research is available here.

Team Science

Business management, communication, and social science researchers study how groups of people perform effectively as a team, how teams are effectively led, and how teams make decisions together. More recent studies have applied that knowledge directly to the team research experience. That body of knowledge is known as team science.

Most of the research in team science focuses on research teams that are made up of researchers from various disciplines and may or may not include stakeholders. Multi-stakeholder teams combine researchers from various disciplines with patients, family caregivers, clinicians, health insurers, and other stakeholders. The goal of multi-stakeholder team research is to create teams where stakeholders work directly as equal partners in the study.

The diversity of the team is especially important to conducting PCOR to ensure that the findings have broad application to all patients, especially those from populations that are traditionally underrepresented in research. For researchers and the entire team, bringing together individuals with diverse cultural, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds as a cohesive team may be a new experience. Overcoming biases and stereotypes, creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome and valued, and managing intercultural communication are critical skills for every member of the team to adopt.

All teams face challenges in working together productively. Years of research have produced lessons learned about the processes and best practices to help teams establish norms, navigate conflict effectively, and make decisions that integrate the multiple perspectives of team members. Although PCORI-funded multi-stakeholder teams are only beginning to discover the best practices to create team cohesion and productivity, many team development resources can be adapted to help PCOR teams succeed.

Learn more about Team Science