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Monday, September 16 • 1:30pm - 2:00pm
Beyond co-design to co-evaluation: Reflections on collaborating with consumer researchers

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Rachel Aston (ARTD Consultants), Amelia Walters (ARTD Consultants), Amber Provenzano (ARTD Consultants)

There is increasing recognition that consumers of mental health services and consumer researchers play an essential role in creating quality and effective research (Lammers & Happell, 2004; Hancock et al., 2012). However, little evidence exists around the engagement of consumer researchers in research and even less in evaluation (Lammers & Happell, 2004). Consumer researcher inclusion can enhance the utility, relevance, and validity of the evaluation process, conclusions, and judgements of programs, policies and initiatives that directly involve and impact on the lives of end-users.

A Victorian Primary Health Network has introduced an innovative Mental Health Stepped Care Model designed to match services with individual's and local population needs. Using this as an evaluation case example, collaboration with a consumer researcher is shown as critical to the success of the evaluation due to the design of the methodology, and in particular the emphasis on qualitative data gathering and case studies of primary health services.

Supporting the emergent literature and challenging the historical view of consumers as passive potential beneficiaries of the research and evaluation process, we propose that the active involvement of a consumer researcher in all stages of the evaluation process creates powerful mutual learning (Brosnan, 2012).

We will discuss how to practically support consumer researchers in evaluation to contribute their lived experience, to further develop their professional skills, and to foster greater ownership of evaluation for the community. We suggest minimising potential power disparities between the evaluation team and the consumer researcher, through a mentoring and allyship model (Happell et al., 2018).

Finally, we will raise important implications for the practice and wider discipline of evaluation. Progressing beyond co-design to co-evaluation, the unique contribution of consumer researchers' values and lived experience, being embedded in evaluation, leading to maximizing the utility, relevance and accuracy of the findings, will be elucidated.

avatar for Christina Kadmos

Christina Kadmos

Principal, Kalico Consulting

avatar for Rachel Aston

Rachel Aston

Manager, ARTD Consultants
Rachel is an experienced social researcher and evaluator at ARTD Consultants. She brings eight years’ experience conducting research and evaluation for government, NGOs and in the higher education sector. Rachel has a high level of expertise in qualitative and mixed-methods research... Read More →
avatar for Amber Provenzano

Amber Provenzano

Analyst, ARTD Consultants
Amber joined ARTD in 2018. She supports evaluation and research in areas of complex social policy, particularly in the health, mental health and disability sectors. She has experience with undertaking document and literature reviews, conducting interviews, survey design and administration... Read More →
avatar for Amelia Walters

Amelia Walters

Lived Experience Researcher, ARTD Consultants
Amelia is a mental health advocate, consultant, researcher, and peer worker.Amelia is the Lived Experience Researcher to the ARTD Consultants and University of Melbourne’s independent evaluation of the Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network Mental Health Stepped Care model. She... Read More →

Monday September 16, 2019 1:30pm - 2:00pm AEST