Making Sense of "Consumer Engagement" Initiatives to Improve Health and Health Care

These researchers have identified a way for policy-makers and others to “make sense” out of the many national and local efforts to engage consumers in their own health care.

Policy-makers and practitioners continue to pursue initiatives designed to engage individuals in their health and health care despite discordant views and mixed evidence regarding the ability to cultivate greater individual engagement that improves Americans’ health and well-being and helps manage health care costs. There is limited and mixed evidence regarding the value of different interventions.

These researchers found that by evaluating various community-based consumer engagement initiatives and a targeted literature review of models of behavior change, they identified the need for a framework to classify the universe of consumer engagement initiatives toward advancing policy-makers’ and practitioners’ knowledge of their value and fit in various contexts. They developed a framework that expanded our conceptualization of consumer engagement, building on elements of two common models: (1) The individually focused transtheoretical model of behavior, and (2) the broader, multilevel social ecological model. They then applied this framework to one community’s existing consumer engagement program.

Applying the framework could help advance the field by making policy-makers and practitioners aware of the wide range of approaches, providing a structured way to organize and characterize interventions retrospectively, and helping them consider how they can meet the program’s goals both individually and collectively.