Consumer and community involvement: implementing a model for consumer advisory panels across Monash Partners

Seven research projects were recently awarded funding thanks to our partnership with Equity Trustees. This collaboration recognises high impact research projects that directly benefit children and those suffering with cancer, heart disease and depression. The following highlights one of the funded projects: Consumer and community involvement: implementing a model for consumer advisory panels across Monash Partners. We spoke to project lead Ms Joanna Ong about the project.

What are Consumer Advisory Panels?

Consumer Advisory Panels are committees made up of consumers or community representatives appointed in an advisory capacity by organisations.

Consumer Advisory Panels can provide consumer perspectives on research projects, advocate for people with a particular health condition, raise community awareness of research, and represent consumer views in government, community and consumer and research forums.


Is there a need for this particular project?

The community are the funders and beneficiaries of both research and healthcare in Australia. They deserve to be front and centre in driving a health system informed by research that meets their needs.

Compelling global experience indicates that involving consumers and community members in research adds value and enhances the translation of research findings and discoveries into better clinical care.

Significant progress has been made around policy with increasing recognition of the importance of consumer and community involvement (CCI) however, more is to be done to embed CCI in research and health care improvement.

Efforts to involve consumers in research remain limited and are sometimes tokenistic. Furthermore, recruiting, establishing and maintaining consumer and community representation on individual research projects and committees can be resource-intensive and challenging.


What is the aim of the project?

Equity Trustees is funding Monash Partners to develop and trial a Consumer Advisory Panel model that is an alternative to the current project-by-project approach to consumer involvement in health research.


What stage is the project at? 

Scoping review and recruitment to interviews and focus groups have commenced. Research ethics approval has been granted.


What are the early insights into the project?

Establishing and maintaining relationships with consumers and community representatives takes time and requires meaningful engagement and systems in place to support consumers.


What outcomes will the project see?

The data from the scoping review and semi-structured interviews will provide information to support the establishment and operation of a Monash Partners consumer advisory panel(s) for use by health service staff, researchers and students.


What are the next steps of the project?

Semi-structured interviews and focus groups.


What impact will this project have?

This project aims to increase awareness of the value of consumer involvement in health improvement and research. Monash Partners clinically themed Consumer Advisory Panels aim to make involving consumers easier and readily accessible.


Watch this space for future project developments.