Project Lead

Robyn Smith


Consumer and Community Involvement

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Lead partner



The University of Melbourne

The WEHI Consumer Buddy Program started in 2012 with the aim of enhancing WEHI medical research by involving consumers in consumer/researcher partnerships. WEHI is one of only a few Australian research institutes to have an organisation-wide program that actively engages consumers as partners in medical research. The program matches Consumers (that is: patients and/or carers who have experienced a disease, or members of the community who have a strong interest in Medical Research) with WEHI medical researchers and they work together to develop, do and share the research. To date, feedback from people involved in the program has mostly been about practical things to do with running the program and there has been no formal evaluation of the program as a whole. The WEHI Consumer Buddy Program Evaluation will consider the program from a range of different perspectives.

The evaluation will include an online questionnaire and individual interviews with a range of people from across WEHI including those directly involved in the program (researchers and buddies), WEHI leaders and some of the researchers who are not involved in the program. The evaluation aims to explore the experiences, strengths, success factors, improvement opportunities, outputs and perceived outcomes of the WEHI Consumer Buddy Program.

The aims of this evaluation are;

  1. Report produced for WEHI internal and MACH partnership use
  2. Strengthened Consumer Buddy Program at WEHI
    • What does success look like?
    • Review barriers to and enablers of the program to identify potential areas of improvement for internal WEHI use.
  3. Identify any best practice models in Consumer and Community engagement: this includes identifying best practices, models and protocols that can be applied in other settings.  This should be available for distribution nationally
  4. Consumer Engagement Resource/Guidelines for MACH partners

The following paper summarises research findings.

Increasing Consumer and Community Involvement in Medical Research: A Short Guide for Medical Research Institutes. Author: Robyn Smith


The findings of the study was published.

Patient and public involvement in preclinical and medical research: Evaluation of an established programme in a Discovery-Based Medical Research Institute. 
HEALTH EXPECTATIONS, vol.27, no.1, pp. 15-. doi:10.1111/hex.13968