For patients or researchers who have never been part of a research partnership, they may wonder whether they have what it takes, so we asked the people we interviewed to describe what skills they felt were needed for effective research partnerships - both for patients and caregivers, and for researchers. Almost everyone pointed to the need for good communication skills, but they also indicated particular character traits and attitudes as important. Many thought that patients didn’t need to come prepared with skills, aside from “just being a patient,” having experience in the healthcare system, and knowing that their voice matters. A key message for researchers, repeated by many participants, was the importance of openness, receptivity, humility and reflexivity.
Overall, three types of ‘skills’ were frequently mentioned as important for partnerships:
Character traits and attitudes, including openness, empathy, receptivity, patience, humility, reflexivity, self-awareness, and recognizing the value of lived experience
Relational and communication skills, including active listening, ability to express opinions and ask questions, communicating in non-hierarchical way, and building relationships
Knowledge and experience, including understanding language and process of research (patients), experience working with patients (researchers), experience as a patient in the health care system (patients), and knowing how to communicate with non-researchers (researchers)