Creating a Toolkit to Reduce Disparities in Patient Engagement

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Patient engagement has become a major focus of health care improvement efforts nationally. Although evidence suggests patient engagement can be beneficial to patients, it has not been consistently defined, operationalized, or translated into practice.


Our objective was to develop a toolkit to help providers increase patient engagement and reduce disparities in patient engagement.

Research Design:

We used qualitative interviews and observations with staff at primary care sites nationally to identify patient engagement practices and resources used to engage patients. We then used a modified Delphi process, that included a series of conference calls and surveys, where stakeholders reduced lists of engagement practices based on perceived feasibility and importance to develop a toolkit for patient engagement.


Sites were selected for interviews and site visits based on the concentration of minority patients served and performance on a measure of patient engagement, with the goal of highlighting practices at sites that successfully serve minority patients.


We created a toolkit consisting of patient engagement practices and resources. No identified practice or resource specifically targeted patient engagement of minorities or addressed disparities. However, high-performing, high–minority-serving sites tended to describe more staff training opportunities and staff feedback mechanisms. In addition, low-performing and high–minority-serving sites more often reported barriers to implementation of patient engagement practices.


Stakeholders agreed on feasible and important engagement practices. Implementation of this toolkit will be tracked to better understand patient engagement and its effect on patient-centered care and related disparities in care.

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