A first step in creating a productive partnership is to conduct a self-assessment to determine whether your organization has an essential factor in place—an effective, sustainable patient and family advisory council (PFAC) and/or patient and family advisory program.

Assessing Your PFAC/PFAs. The ability for your PFAC to successfully take on research as a topic is very dependent on its vitality and effectiveness as a council. Key characteristics to help determine whether engaging in research is a good fit include the degree to which your organization’s PFAC:

  • Has a formal structure.
  • Is active.
  • Has a membership in which the majority are patients and families (compared to clinicians and staff).
  • Is representative of the population the organization serves.
  • Has a history of collaborating with leaders, clinicians, and staff.
  • Measures and documents outcomes of its activities.
  • Has time in its upcoming schedule to devote to research partnerships.

For help with this, a Self-Assessment is included in the Tools and Resources.

If your organization does not have a PFAC, but there are PFAs who partner on committees and work groups, identify if there are any who want to partner in research. It is unusual for PFAs to have experience in research before they begin to collaborate with an organization in policy or program development, design planning, and/or quality improvement and safety initiatives. Their interest, curiosity, ability to share their perspectives, and their experience in partnering within the organization are the skills that are needed.

ACTIVITY: My Checklist for a Successful Partnership

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy created a tool, “My Checklist for a Successful Partnership.” This checklist could be adapted and completed as a group activity by PFACs or PFAs to decide if you want to partner with researchers on a project and if so, how do you want to collaborate.