Can patients be teachers?

Involving patients and service users in healthcare professionals' education

October 2011

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Key points

  • Generally, patient/user involvement in health professional education is low on the agenda of influential leaders in health professional education.
  • There is strong evidence that patient/user involvement has short-term benefits for all involved
  • There has been little research on longer term benefits.
  • Innovations require a champion, institutional buy-in, support, adequate infrastructure and funding. Cultural change may be required.
  • There is a need for a central repository of good practice
  • The Health Foundation recommends holding meetings between leaders and thinkers from academic institutions, professional bodies, the healthcare system, the lay community and other stakeholders to address the issues raised in this report.

There is strong evidence that involving patients and service users in healthcare professionals' education has short-term benefits for all involved. Longer term, there has been little evaluation to discover whether this involvement has an effect on the behaviour or practice of health professionals or on health outcomes.

This report aims to describe the current state of active patient involvement in the education of health and social care professionals, both in the literature and in practice. It aims to highlight areas for further research and development.

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