It’s a constant challenge for the P2 practitioner: determining whether, after the hours of hard labour put into developing an engagement project, the desired outcome was achieved. In our monthly webinar, “Evaluating Your P2 Project,” Dr Julia Abelson of McMaster University and Geoff Wilson of Nova Scotia Health described their work in developing a tool for measuring the effectiveness of a P2 project.
Evaluation, Dr Abelson says, is lagging in the P2 field. There are lots of tools and approaches for reaching out to people and gathering their opinions and ideas, but hardly anything to look at the “back-end”: to see if people’s input was taken into consideration and/or affected the project or if they felt they were heard. In her own research, she found that two-thirds of the projects she surveyed had no evaluation tool.
She and Geoff were part of the Public and Patient Engagement Research-Practice Collaborative a pan-Canadian team to develop a common means for determining how well patients in Canada’s health-care system are consulted, heard and influenced their treatment and care. Geoff found that the lack of such a tool challenged the legitimacy of a P2 process in the eyes of an organization’s managers: “They want evidence-based research … a ‘scientific’ argument for the process,” he says.
The result of their work – the Public and Patient Engagement Evaluation Tool, or PPEET – won the IAP2 Canada Core Values Award for Research Project of the Year in 2014; more significantly, this tool can be adapted for any kind of public engagement process, not just health care.
You can view the webinar for yourself here. Also taking part in the webinar in a pre-recorded session were Michael Quinn Patton and Charmagne Campbell-Patton, whose work in Developmental Evaluation allows for real-time feedback during a P2 process. This requires practitioners and organizations to step away from pre-conceived outcomes and allows for flexibility in achieving a result that truly reflects the views and desires of a broad range of stakeholders.
“Developmental Evaluation allows stakeholders and the public to see where things are going and adjust (their expectations) accordingly,” says Quinn Patton. He says the concept fits with the IAP2 Core Values and is particularly useful when a process is higher than “Inform” on the IAP2 Spectrum.