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Engaging People with Lived Experience to Improve Federal Research, Policy, and Practice

Individuals with lived experience have long encouraged federal agencies to work with those with we seek to serve to improve federal research, programming, and policies. While the federal government’s history of engaging individuals with lived experience to contextualize and inform policy and practice dates to the early 20th century, there is growing interest in improving and expanding these kinds of engagements. This webpage links to materials ASPE has prepared as it leads work on how federal agencies and programs can meaningfully and effectively engage people with lived experience.

What is lived experience?

Lived experience refers to “representation and understanding of an individual’s human experiences, choices, and options and how those factors influence one’s perception of knowledge” based on one’s own life. In the context of ASPE’s research, people with lived experience are individuals directly impacted by a social issue or combination of issues who share similar experiences or backgrounds and can bring the insights of their experience to inform and enhance systems, research, policies, practices, and programs that aim to address the issue(s).

Federal agencies can work with people with lived experience to develop a deeper understanding of the conditions affecting certain populations, the solutions that are most appropriate for those impacted by the issue, and the potential harmful unintended consequences of the current and past actions taken by the existing system on the people it aims to serve.

What resources has ASPE developed?

ASPE is researching methods and strategies that federal agencies can use to engage people with lived experience and creating resources to build federal capacity to engage those we seek to serve. Existing resources are linked below. To receive updates when new products come out, email Laura Erickson at Laura.Erickson@hhs.gov.

  • Methods and Emerging Strategies to Engage People with Lived Experience – This brief identifies methods and emerging strategies to engage people with lived experience in federal research, programming, and policymaking. It draws on lessons learned from federal initiatives across a range of human services areas to identify ways that federal staff can meaningfully and effectively engage people with lived experience.