Training community digital champions as peer researchers
Community digital champions working as 'peer researchers' are the key researchers for the Building Inclusive Digital Health Innovation Eco-Systems project. Community digital champions are local people with lived experience of inequalities and socio-economic disadvantage and as such they resonate with groups in society who are most impacted by health inequalities and are more likely to be digitally excluded.
Peer research is a research method in which people with deep knowledge and understanding of the issues being studied participate in directing and conducting the research. As peer researchers, the community digital champions in our project are helping with the design of the research and will be involved in the collection and analysis of data, the writing up of the project and the dissemination of our findings.
We officially started the project with a two-day training workshop which included discussions on the topics of innovation, digital innovation in the context of healthcare, and research methods. These discussions will feed into the design of the project's questionnaire which will delve deeper into some of these topics. The walsall housing group introduced the idea of 'clever conversations' as a way of engaging community members in conversation about how digital health technologies could work better to benefit communities that are underserved. Complex issues around trust, socialisation, as well as the extent to which we really have a choice on whether to adopt these technologies were discussed. The discussion was lively as well as thoughtful and thought provoking.