An allied health research team’s reflections on consumer coproduction on the ATHENA project

Dr Kelly WEIR1,2, Ms Zara  Howard3, Ms Jennifer  Nucifora3, Ms Nadine Baker4, Ms  Leanne Smith3, Mrs Heidi Towsend5, Professor  Lynda Ross6, Dr Shelley Roberts1,2

1Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia, 2Allied Health Research, Gold Coast Health, Southport, Australia, 3Physiotherapy Department, Gold Coast Health, Southport, Australia, 4Nutrition & Dietetics Department, Gold Coast Health, Southport, Australia, 5Consumer Co-investigator, Southport, Australia, 6School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Background: Consumer and community involvement (CCI) in healthcare service design, delivery and research is supported by a number of Australian National Safety and Quality Health Care Standards, and the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights; and increasingly a requirement of funding bodies for healthcare research. However, there is limited training for researchers or consumers as to how to effectively engage consumers in health research teams.

Aims: The aim of this study was to explore an allied health research team and consumer coinvestigator perspectives of coproduction on the ATHENA project (An exercise Training and Healthy Eating group program for overweight and obese women with urinary incontinence).

Methods:  A qualitative research design was utilised. At the completion of the ATHENA project, all eight team members including physiotherapists, dietitians, allied health research fellows, university academics and the consumer co-investigator were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. Eight questions explored members’ perceptions of their experience of the coproduction process, barriers and possible solutions, facilitators for coproduction, effectiveness, and benefits to the project and participant experience. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed with member checking, and analysed according to Braun and Clarke’s 6-step guide to thematic analysis.

Results: While most team members had no prior experience of consumer coproduction in research, all felt that the consumer co-investigator provided a lived experience perspective that was heavily influential on the development, design and conduct of the research, and critical to the study’s successful outcomes. Detailed findings will be presented.

Conclusion: Consumer co-production is essential to effective allied health research.


Dr Kelly Weir is a Conjoint Principal Research Fellow (Griffith University) & Allied Health Research Team Leader at Gold Coast Health, Queensland Australia. She is a certified practicing speech pathologist with over 30 years clinical experience, predominantly in tertiary state-wide paediatric & adult hospitals. Kelly researches in the area of paediatric & adult dysphagia, management of medically fragile infants and children in critical and acute care; allied health primary contact models of care; and building research capacity in allied health professionals in healthcare settings. She champions consumer engagement as coproducers in health research.

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