Faculty and students from Western Carolina University take part in the annual Tuckaseigee River Cleanup, the nation’s largest single-day river cleanup project. (Courtesy of Western Carolina University’s Office of Public Relations.)


This product is a thorough presentation of an important concept/activity in a very user-friendly and easy to understand format. It has valuable information and advice for use by a wide range of decision makers. In particular, its unique contribution is that it provides a comprehensive tool to assist healthcare providers (systems, institutions) with a process to conceptualize and organize public involvement in topics that the providers will be making decisions on. It may have broader application than the Canadian health system, which is referenced quite a bit. Individuals living in both rural and urban areas of the U.S. would find this useful. It references the literature, but does not come across as too academic or full of jargon.

The main weakness is that most of the strategies to involve public participation are essentially one-directional data collection methods (key information interviews, focus groups, surveys) or single events (public meetings) to solicit public opinion. The framework lacks a consideration of sustained engagement and participatory approaches to decision-making, such as methods that are based on partnership principles (co-learning, shared resources, shared power and decision making).

The impact of the product is not yet known and it may be helpful to have additional information about how the product has been applied.

It is difficult to judge the scholarly nature of this work. Although a bibliography is provided in the application, there is no summary of the literature to communicate the scholarly approach taken to the development of this product. Details concerning the rigor of the research project that formed the basis for this project are also missing.

There is also insufficient information in the application regarding the extent of and quality of the engagement among partners. It is clear that numerous sectors of the community participated in interviews and focus groups in terms of data collection, but it is not clear if this work was actually a collaborative effort (meaning that non-academics had some decision making power in the design, implementation or analysis/interpretation of the work). The “research team” is referred to and it is not clear from the application who that is. If it includes all the authors listed on the application, then that would meet CES4Health’s definition of community-engaged. CES4Health is interested in publishing products that are either developed collaboratively, or that arise out of research, education, programmatic or other work that was done collaboratively, between academics (or other institutions) and partners outside that sector.

There were some typos and the submission should be proofread.

Recommended Revisions to Product:

1) The section on evaluating exercises to solicit public participation would be strengthened by including approaches to public engagement in which affected communities are involved in gathering and interpreting the meaning of information derived from these exercises, and in the decision-making process to apply/translate into policies/practices. If the product cannot be altered in this way, then please address this issue in the application or explain the rationale for not including such approaches.

2) The authors mentioned that impact has not yet been assessed, but "users" have indicated the framework is user-friendly. It would add to the strength of the product to provide the details of a specific application of the framework (a case study, or a brief example of how it works in practice), explaining the impact of the framework in real-world scenarios / contexts, including lessons learned (strengths and limitations of the framework, directions for future research or practice). This could also be handled instead in application question 11.

3) Not sure what is meant by "consolations" on page 8----was not sure if it was a typo for the word consultations

Recommended Revisions to Application:

1) Include information in Questions 7, 8, 11 and 12 about the extent of and quality of the engagement among partners. Demonstrate the ways that the 3 year research project and/or the development of the product itself was a collaborative effort.

2) Provide a brief summary of the literature in question 5 so that the reviewer and potential users understand the scholarly grounding of your work. Question 6 is intended to serve as a place to provide the references for works cited in Question 5 so that the author does not use up allotted characters in Question 5 with citations. The intention was not for authors to substitute a bibliography in lieu of summarizing how the work builds on a relevant field.

3) Provide additional information in Question 7 that will allow potential users to understand the rigor of the research on which the product is based. See the bulleted information regarding information concerning aims, design, sample, measurement and analysis/interpretation. Also note whether and how non-academics were involved in a collaborative manner. Great detail is not necessary, but addressing each of these areas is important.

Thanks for the opportunity to review this important work.