Reaching Consensus on Principles of Stakeholder Engagement in Research.Prog Community Health Partnersh. 2020; 14(1):117-127.PC
Stakeholder-engaged research is an umbrella term for the types of research that have community, patient, and/or stakeholder engagement, feedback, and bidirectional communication as approaches used in the research process. The level of stakeholder engagement across studies can vary greatly, from minimal engagement to fully collaborative partnerships.
To present the process of reaching consensus among stakeholder and academic experts on the stakeholder engagement principles (EPs) and to identify definitions for each principle.
We convened 19 national experts, 18 of whom remained engaged in a five-round Delphi process. The Delphi panel consisted of a broad range of stakeholders (e.g., patients, caregivers, advocacy groups, clinicians, researchers). We used web-based surveys for most rounds (1-3 and 5) and an in-person meeting for round 4. Panelists evaluated EP titles and definitions with a goal of reaching consensus (>80% agreement). Panelists' comments guided modifications, with greater weight given to non-academic stakeholder input.
EP titles and definitions were modified over five Delphi rounds. The panel reached consensus on eight EPs (dropping four, modifying four, and adding one) and corresponding definitions. The Delphi process allowed for a stakeholder-engaged approach to methodological research. Stakeholder engagement in research is time consuming and requires greater effort but may yield a better, more relevant outcome than more traditional scientist-only processes. This stakeholder-engaged process of reaching consensus on EPs and definitions provides a key initial step for the content validation of a survey tool to examine the level of stakeholder engagement in research studies.