Community partners' responses to items assessing stakeholder engagement: Cognitive response testing in measure development

Vetta L.Sanders Thompson, Nora Leahy, Nicole Ackermann, Deborah J. Bowen, Melody S. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Despite recognition of the importance of stakeholder input into research, there is a lack of validated measures to assess how well constituencies are engaged and their input integrated into research design. Measurement theory suggests that a community engagement measure should use clear and simple language and capture important components of underlying constructs, resulting in a valid measure that is accessible to a broad audience. Objective The primary objective of this study was to evaluate how community members understood and responded to a measure of community engagement developed to be reliable, valid, easily administered, and broadly usable. Method Cognitive response interviews were completed, during which participants described their reactions to items and how they processed them. Participants were asked to interpret item meaning, paraphrase items, and identify difficult or problematic terms and phrases, as well as provide any concerns with response options while responding to 16 of 32 survey items. Results The results of the cognitive response interviews of participants (N = 16) suggest concerns about plain language and literacy, clarity of question focus, and the lack of context clues to facilitate processing in response to items querying research experience. Minimal concerns were related to response options. Participants suggested changes in words and terms, as well as item structure. Conclusion Qualitative research can improve the validity and accessibility of measures that assess stakeholder experience of community-engaged research. The findings suggest wording and sentence structure changes that improve ability to assess implementation of community engagement and its impact on research outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0241839
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cognition/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Stakeholder Participation
  • Young Adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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