Involving professionals in research. In the field of ageing and health

Sammanfattning: Involving professionals in research can ensure the acquisition of knowledge, that is relevant, applicable and sustainable. Professionals are people who work in health systems, or organisations that contribute to health systems, such as practitioners, managers or other decision-makers. They have context-specific knowledge which the researchers often lack. Therefore, when they are involved in research, the perspective from research and the perspective from practice can be integrated, helping to bridge the gap between research and practice and strengthening health systems. However, there is a lack of knowledge about professionals’ involvement in research in the field of ageing and health. Furthermore, demographic changes in society, which will lead to an increase in the number of older people, are expected to result in greater demand for care and services from health systems. Hence, it is important to bridge the gap between research and practice, ensuring that research in the field of ageing and health is useful in practice to improve conditions for ageing populations and society at large. There is a need for further exploration of the involvement of professionals in research in the field of ageing and health in order to harness potential and address challenges with the aim of creating successful conditions for the involvement of professionals in the research process. Therefore, the overall aim of this thesis was to explore professionals’ involvement in research on ageing and health, from the perspective of professionals and researchers and to contribute strategies for involving professionals in research. The experiences of professionals were explored in study I through interviews which were analysed using grounded theory. A participatory and mixed method called group concept mapping was used in studies II & III to collect and analyse the experiences of both researchers and professionals. The results of studies I-III were reviewed scientifically using content analysis, and a guide for collaboration between professionals and researchers was developed by collaborating with professionals through research circles. The results of this thesis show three important areas in terms of involving professionals in research in the field of ageing and health: the prerequisites for involvement, the process of involvement and the outcome of the involvement. Furthermore, this thesis reveals an interplay between these areas. It highlights the importance of ensuring that the process aligns with the intended outcome of the involvement, and that the prerequisites align with the process of involvement. External prerequisites for enabling professionals to be involved in research include the organisation where they worked, the politics that governed their work, having time for involvement within ordinary working hours and receiving support from their managers and colleagues. Internal prerequisites influencing professionals’ involvement in research included belief and confidence in their own ability to get involved in research. During the process of involvement, research and practice adapt to one another. The different roles the professionals and the researchers had during the process entailed different responsibilities and expectations. Equally, the process was influenced by the relationships between professionals and researchers and how they interacted. Hence, the process of involvement can either enable or challenge opportunities for mutual learning and development. The involvement of professionals was experienced as influencing the research process and the usability of the research results, as well as influencing the professionals involved and their practice. Together, these outcomes were considered to ultimately benefit the older people who were the intended beneficiaries of the research. In conclusion, there should be systematic consideration of the interplay between the prerequisites for involving professionals, the process of involvement and the intended outcome of the involvement. This thesis provides useful strategies for involving professionals in designing and conducting research projects.