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The Language of Engagement: "Aha!" Moments from Engaging Patients and Community Partners in Two Pilot Projects of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.


Compared with people living in the community, researchers often have different frameworks or paradigms for thinking about health and wellness. These differing frameworks are often accompanied by differences in terminology or language. The purpose of this commentary is to describe some of our "Aha!" moments from conducting two pilot studies funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Over time, we came to understand how our language and word choices may have been acting as a wedge between ourselves and our community research partners. We learned that fruitful collaborative work must attend to the creation of a common language, which we refer to as the language of engagement. Such patient-centered language can effectively build a bridge between researchers and community partners. We encourage other researchers to think critically about their cultural competency, to be mindful of the social power dynamics between patient and physician, to reflect on how their understanding might differ from those of their patient partners, and to find ways to use a common language that engages patients and other community partners.

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