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The science of stakeholder engagement in research: classification, implementation, and evaluation

  • Commentary/Position Paper
  • Published:
Translational Behavioral Medicine


In this commentary, we discuss the science of stakeholder engagement in research. We propose a classification system with definitions to determine where projects lie on the stakeholder engagement continuum. We discuss the key elements of implementation and evaluation of stakeholder engagement in research posing key questions to consider when doing this work. We commend and critique the work of Hamilton et al. in their multilevel stakeholder engagement in a VA implementation trial of evidence-based quality improvement in women’s health primary care. We also discuss the need for more work in this area to enhance the science of stakeholder engagement in research.

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We would like to thank Dr. Deborah Bowen for her contribution to the development of the stakeholder engagement classification definitions used in the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Melody S. Goodman PhD.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


The stakeholder engagement classification work is supported through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) award (ME-1511-33027). All statements in this report, including its findings and conclusions, are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), its Board of Governors, or Methodology Committee.

Additional information


Research: Future research should evaluate stakeholder engagement in research to determine the association between the level (quality and quantity) of engagement and research outcomes.

Practice: Practitioners interested in engaging multilevel stakeholders in service evaluation and quality improvement should consider where the project lies on the stakeholder engagement continuum and create processes for shared decision-making that respect diverse perspectives and interests.

Policy: Meaningful stakeholder engagement with shared decision-making is a key component to evidence-based quality improvement initiatives.

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Goodman, M.S., Sanders Thompson, V.L. The science of stakeholder engagement in research: classification, implementation, and evaluation. Behav. Med. Pract. Policy Res. 7, 486–491 (2017).

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