Working with lay people in health service research: a model of co-evolution based on complexity theory

J Interprof Care. 2010 Jan;24(1):31-40. doi: 10.3109/13561820903012073.


Involving lay researchers is an important part of Government policy in the United Kingdom within the context of the National Health Service. Here we draw upon insights from complexity theory to suggest a model that we call consensual qualitative research where lay researchers and professionals are co-producers of knowledge. The focus of attention is on understanding and facilitating the patterns that emerge from non-linear interaction at a local level. We describe some core principles that can facilitate the development of such a model and conclude that the resources in terms of time and effort that such an approach requires, should not be underestimated.

MeSH terms

  • Health Occupations*
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Research / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research Personnel / organization & administration*
  • United Kingdom