Experiential evidence guide

This guide provides a typology and table of methods and techniques to guide choices in the collection of experiential evidence in healthcare innovation, improvement and evaluation.

When to use the experiential evidence guide?

The guide can be used when seeking to benefit from the experiences and insights of clinicians or consumers. It can be used by clinical and non-clinical, research and non-research groups. It has been tested in different contexts and settings.

Choosing the method to gather experiential evidence can be guided by four questions.

  1. What is the nature of evidence sought and the purpose of the inquiry?
    For example, is it facts about current situations or opinions about how to improve?
  2. Who are the knowledge holders?
    For example, who are the key informers – health professionals, consumers or communities?
  3. Do the knowledge holders have a preference for modality?
    For example, are participants more comfortable with talk, text, visual or digital communication? Are there language, literacy or cultural considerations?
  4. How should we synthesise the information the data?
    For example, does an independent observer take individual responses and synthesise them or will a group be supported to come to a shared position?

How was the matrix created?

The matrix development involved two steps.

  • An eight-phase approach to developing a conceptual model: mapping selected data sources including academic literature; categorising of the selected data; identifying and naming concepts; deconstructing and categorising the concepts; integrating concepts; synthesis, resynthesis and making sense; validating the conceptual framework; rethinking the conceptual framework.
  • A systematic literature search of methods and advice gathered from an online community using a crowdsourcing approach.

What do we mean by experiential evidence?

Experiential evidence codifies the knowledge, expertise and wisdom that individuals or groups develop from encounters, involvement or practice. It is generally sought about real-world situations or experiences, including living with or treating a particular illness or condition, familiarity with a setting or context, or belonging to a social or professional group. Experiential evidence is the result of a robust and transparent process of collation, synthesis and analysis.

More information

Experiential evidence typology

The typology spans two dimensions. The first dimension focuses on the nature of the evidence that is sought. This dimension spans from descriptive (how things are) to prescriptive (how things should be). The second dimension is the purpose of the inquiry. This dimension spans from expansive (seeking to identify different perspectives or generate a range of options) to convergent (seeking to find areas of agreement, belonging, and consensus).

Combined into a matrix, these dimensions result in evidence-gathering approaches being classified into four quadrants:

  • Revealing issues
  • Generating solutions
  • Identifying allegiances and shared views
  • Reaching accord.

Central to the matrix and relevant to all four quadrants, is the role experiential evidence plays in mobilising improvement efforts and securing change. Engagement with stakeholders, building a shared narrative and acknowledging the complexity and different perspectives can all help to mobilise action and build momentum for improvement.

Within each of the quadrants there are a number of methods to select from, depending on the answers to the four guiding questions.

View the experiential evidence methods comparison tables

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