Background: When properly trained through training programs on epidemiology, clinical research and healthcare policy, members of patients'/consumers' organizations could be helpful for a patient-oriented healthcare system. Since 2006 the not for profit project PartecipaSalute has organized periodic editions of a training program for representatives of citizens'/patients' organizations. After five editions of this training program, a survey of the long-term satisfaction and the impact on activities has been carried out.
Methods: A 17-questions follow-up questionnaire has been developed. The sample comprised 99 people who had taken part in at least one program edition.
Results: The overall response rate was 89% (89 responders/99 participants). About 98% of participants expressed general satisfaction with the training program and with the knowledge gained. Medical and informative topics were rated better than technical ones for their usefulness (96% versus 86%). The results of the survey showed a strong impact of the training course on single participants, while a weak outcome on the activities of the organizations was reported.
Conclusions: The training program was positively rated, and improvements in personal knowledge were reported. Less impact was reported on organizations' activities. Participants showed a remarkable willingness to get more involved in healthcare decisions, and to boost their knowledge of health and research issues. The results show the importance of follow-up to understand the real value of training program and to better organize future programs.