Multiple frameworks exist for guiding researchers through the process of stakeholder engagement. Two well-known frameworks, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)'s Engagement Rubric offer principles or 'best practices' for stakeholder engagement, outlined below. As researchers develop their own plan for stakeholder engagement, these principles can serve as a foundation.
PCORI Engagement Principles
PCORI is a non-profit funding organization, the mission of which is to produce and promote "high-integrity, evidence-based information that comes from research guided by patients, caregivers, and the broader healthcare community". As part of this mission, PCORI has developed a repository of engagement related resources, including the PCORI Engagement Rubric which outlines the following principles:
Reciprocal Relationships: This principle is demonstrated when the roles and decision-making authority of all research partners, including the patient
and other stakeholder partners, are defined collaboratively and clearly stated.
Co-Learning: This principle is demonstrated when the goal is not to turn patients or other stakeholder partners into researchers, but to help them
understand the research process; likewise, the research team will learn about patient-centeredness and patient/other stakeholder engagement, and
will incorporate patient and other stakeholder partners into the research process.
Partnerships: This principle is demonstrated when time and contributions of patient and other stakeholder partners are valued and demonstrated in
fair financial compensation, as well as in reasonable and thoughtful requests for time commitment by patient and other stakeholder partners. When
projects include priority populations, the research team is committed to diversity across all project activities and demonstrates cultural competency,
including disability accommodations, when appropriate.
Transparency, Honesty, and Trust: These principles are demonstrated when major decisions are made inclusively and information is shared
readily with all research partners. Patients, other stakeholders, and researchers are committed to open and honest communication with one another.
Community-based participatory research emphasizes an equally empowered partnership with the community in shaping the research's aims, design, implementation and dissemination. The principles offered by this approach can be useful to researchers conducting any form of stakeholder engagement, since they uphold the tenets of bi-directionality and longitudinality central to our definition of stakeholder engagement.
Recognizes community as a unit of identity: This first principle emphasizes the significance of community for people, and the importance of using
that identification with community as a starting point for the work. A definition of community extends beyond geography and racial identity, and
depends heavily on members’ perceptions of what “the community” really is.
Builds on strengths and resources within the community: Rather than beginning with a “deficit mentality” that emphasizes community
problems and challenges, this second principle reminds us that members of communities have a wealth of knowledge and lived experience from a
cultural, local, and historical lens (Corburn, 2007). This understanding can in turn provide important insider information that is typically unattainable
by an outside scientific researcher.
Facilitates a collaborative, equitable partnership in all phases of research, involving an empowering and power-sharing process that
attends to social inequalities:
This third principle highlights the importance of shared accountability in the decision-making process, across all
steps of the research process. It also recognizes the inherent inequalities that exist between researchers and community partners. Finally, it
stresses the importance of addressing these imbalances by building trusting and mutually respectful relationships grounded in an empowering
process emphasizing communication, information sharing, and joint decision making.
Fosters co-learning and capacity building among all partners: This principle stresses the importance of fostering a reciprocal relationship
that engages all parties in the exchange of knowledge, skills, and capacity, reminding us that all partners bring a wealth of diverse experiences, skills,
and perspectives to the partnership process.
Integrates and achieves a balance between knowledge generation and intervention for the mutual benefit of all partners: CBPR reminds partnerships of the important contributions
needed from both the scientific community, and community partners. It emphasizes integrating knowledge gained through the partnership, in the advancement of intervention
and policies that capture the concerns of all partners and the larger communities they serve.
Focuses on the local relevance of public health problems and on ecological perspectives that attend to the multiple determinants of health:
As described by the Institute of Medicine, “an ecological approach assumes that health and well-being are affected by interaction among multiple
determinants including biology, behavior, and the environment.” This interaction ”unfolds over the life course of individuals, families and
communities” (Gebbie et al., 2003, p. 32). Consistent with an ecological view of health, this sixth principle stresses a localized approach to health with
data that is relevant, timely, and inclusive. It emphasizes an approach to health that extends beyond the individual, to the immediate
and larger contexts in which families live, work, and play. In CBPR partnerships, the multiple determinants of health, such as social, economic, and
physical environmental factors are examined through an interdisciplinary lens, and their interactions stressed.
Involves systems development using a cyclical and iterative process: Principle seven reminds us of the iterative nature of partnerships
and the importance of revisiting each stage of the research process as necessary. This is done to ensure that all voices are captured and that the
action agreed upon is appropriate for all partners involved.
Disseminates results to all partners and involves them in the wider dissemination of results: This principle highlights the importance of
sharing findings in an accessible and respectful way with the community and other stakeholders. The principle further stresses providing
opportunities for involvement in broader dissemination strategies such as publications and presentations at the local, state, and national levels.
Involves a long-term process and commitment to sustainability: This principle places an emphasis on the importance of committing to the long
haul through adequate investment of time and resources in the CBPR process. It further reminds us to keep a critical eye on sustainability and
enforcement of the outcomes of the CBPR process.
Openly addresses issues of race, ethnicity, racism, and social class, and embodies “cultural humility”: CBPR frequently brings together
community partners from marginalized groups and “outside” researchers and other institutional partners who have more privileged backgrounds
in terms of race/ethnicity, education, and social class. To be effective in such situations, CBPR partners must work hard to embody what Tervalon
and Murray-Garcia (1998) call “cultural humility,” recognizing that while no one can be truly “competent” in another’s culture, we can demonstrate a
commitment to self-reflection and critique, working to redress power imbalances and to develop authentic partnerships.
Works to ensure research rigor and validity but also seeks to ”broaden the bandwidth of validity” with respect to research relevance: To be
sound and useful in helping promote policy change and other action outcomes that can in turn help build healthy communities, the research
dimension of CBPR must take seriously notions of research rigor, validity, and reliability. At the same time, as Peter Reason and Hilary Bradbury
(2006) suggest, practitioners of CBPR need to “broaden the bandwidth of validity” by asking, is the research question valid or relevant to the
community and are different “ways of knowing,” including community lay knowledge, valued alongside more traditional scientific sources of