Citizen Scientists

In participatory research, individuals who have the potential to benefit and learn from research are included as partners in the research process. Inclusivity and engagement have proven to be a fundamentally important feature of community-based participatory research. Increasingly, there is motivation and justification to include non-scientists in scientific and academic endeavours that take place beyond the community setting.

Locally, we conduct clinical and health services research to help families, clinicians and health system administrators to better manage and prevent obesity in children. Although we have room to improve, we strive to include these stakeholders in our research processes, an ideal that is consistent with patient engagement. To date, our best example is the RIPPLE study

This week in JAMA, a brief article was published on ‘citizen scientists’ and how they’re changing the face of health and medical research, helping research to evolve from a focus on treating diseases to enhancing heath and wellness. The co-development of research design, objectives, methods, data collection/analysis/interpretation between ‘traditional’ and citizen scientists provides an innovative means to advance wellness-related research that is very relevant to our work (e.g., interventions delivered and tested in real-world settings).

GB

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