Module 6

Working with consumers

Working with diverse and under-served populations

Health inequalities and equity are important considerations when making decisions about consumer involvement. It is recommended to engage consumers from a broad range of backgrounds to ensure equity of opportunity around involvement in research and healthcare improvement projects.

Consider involving consumers with diverse genders, ages, types of expertise, experiences and from varying cultures and socio-economic areas. In addition, underserved populations may vary with the context of the project. Additional considerations may need to be made to ensure all relevant people are included.

Strategies for working with diverse and underserved populations

  • Meet consumer and communities in their own spaces. Travel to the community, rather than expect them to come to you
  • Build lasting connections and relationships of trust
  • Provide something of benefit to the community in exchange for time with them
  • Speak to a community organisation to plan a strategy
  • Access existing consumer groups with people from less represented populations
  • Offer interpreter services
  • Make it easier for patients to participate by meeting their needs in terms of time of day and day of the week (consider evening and weekend meetings)
  • Offer childcare and carer stand-in options
  • Pay for or organise transportation
  • Use adverts, social media and attractive visual information in local newspapers and chemist shops
  • Pay consumers an honorarium or at minimum reimburse costs
  • Keep a record of your efforts to access patient partners, even if they were unsuccessful.

The video below with Dr Magdalena Skrybant (Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Lead, Institute of Applied Health Research, NIHR, CLARC West Midlands) provides an example of quality engagement with diverse communities.

We have a really mature consumer participation program. We have over 80 consumer partners and over 720 volunteers. We engaged the youth, through a school partnership, to try and capture those people who don’t traditionally turn up as consumers. We have 13 Consumer Advisory Groups (CAGs) and including an LGBTI group, and it’s thanks to them that we’ve got the rainbow tick accreditation.  We’ve got an elderly people’s CAG, disability, CALD,  mental health...
Dr Sue Sinni
Peninsula Health