As research approaches evolve, it is becoming common practice to involve community members with lived/living experience—peers who are being researched or who are most impacted by the issues being studied, throughout the research cycle. Inclusion of peers in the research process can strengthen research in a number of ways, including enhancing the relevance of the research question and the utility of results. However, tokenism of peer engagement without careful considerations and planning can perpetuate harm and mistrust within the community.
This Researcher’s Handbook aims to serve as a guide for the Digital Sexual Health Initiative (DiSHI) researchers and staff to meaningfully engage people with lived/living experience as Peer Researchers. A Peer in the DiSHI research context is usually someone with lived/living experience who belongs to a community affected by HIV/sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBI). The document will address key considerations in the peer engagement process from planning, recruitment, onboarding to support. While the content is developed for the DiSHI research context, it may be of interest and relevance to the broader research community.