Insight, not data


What researchers gain from patients’ experiential knowledge

Researchers often learn something new from involvement. From hearing patients’ stories, researchers gain insights* that influence their thinking and therefore change their research. Researchers experience involvement in a very different way to ‘analysing data’ or ‘making sense of evidence’. This is why involvement isn’t about researching the patients’ experience.

Insight can be described as ‘an instance of understanding the true nature of a thing’ or the ‘power of seeing into or understanding a situation’. I came across this quote about insight from an online entrepreneur, which seemed to describe what researchers often report as their experience of working with patients.

Every now and then, I’ll come across a golden nugget of wisdom and it instantly opens my eyes to a very simple, but powerful new point of view.

Making use of another person’s experiential knowledge or wisdom is an act of learning. It affects each person in different ways –depending on what he/she still has to learn.

What does this mean for involvement? I think this means that there’s much to be done around the preparation. I think we need to support patients to identify and share the most relevant aspects of their experience i.e. to help them identify the golden nuggets in their wisdom – and to prepare researchers to experience new insights, rather than thinking they can do this by analysing patient data.

*Thanks to Derek Stewart for sharing his insight on insight!


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