Currently, there is increased interest on the part of researchers to engage patients, families, and community members in research partnerships. This is occurring mainly because of explicit expectations coming from key funders including the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute with its emphasis on Patient and Stakeholder Engagement and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research with its Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research. Researchers seeking funding may be asked to include a plan in their proposal for how they will involve patients and families in the research process. They may reach out to staff liaisons, volunteer departments, or community relations personnel to find patients and families or staff liaisons and patient and family advisors can communicate their willingness to partner with researchers.

In order for your PFAC or PFAs to partner in research projects, you will need to have access to a researcher, research department, or research center. If your organization does not have these, there are other ways to access researchers, including:

  • If your organization is affiliated with a graduate or medical school, ask to meet with the head of nursing graduate education and/or medical education to discuss the potential for partnerships. Invite a representative to attend a PFAC meeting.
  • Create a flyer or material for the organization’s internal communications promoting the PFAC’s and PFAs’ interest in partnering in research.
  • Explore community organizations (e.g., public health agencies, disease or condition specific organizations) to identify researchers associated with these groups and request an introductory meeting.

It will be helpful for the PFAC chair(s) and staff liaison (for the patient and family advisory program) to meet with researchers to discuss the possibility of partnership. Be prepared to:

  • Summarize how your PFAC and PFAs partners with clinicians, staff, departments, leaders in key projects to demonstrate experience.
  • If your PFAC or advisory program produces an annual report, send it to the researcher/s before you meet.
  • Identify research topics the PFAC members and PFAs research topics are interested in and talk to researchers about opportunities.