Background: Recent changes in the structure and policy context of Dutch health care have placed the issue of citizen participation high on the agenda of the Dutch Healthcare Inspectorate (IGZ), which conducts quality and safety reviews in medical practices and health-care institutions. With a few exceptions, the potential role that citizens can play in the regulation of health-care institutions is overlooked in research on patient/citizen participation in health care.
Objective: This research addressed the following question: What are the (political) expectations for increasing citizen participation in health-care regulation and how do these compare to regulators’ expectations and experiences in practice?
Design: Because of the largely explorative nature of this study, we used qualitative methods (document and web analysis, focus groups and interviews) to answer this question.
Results: Our study shows that inspectors already have experience with participatory formats that lead to important information. There are three areas where the IGZ is currently increasing citizen participation: (i) providing individuals with information about inspectorate processes and activities, (ii) including patients as sources of information, and (iii) formally reviewing how citizen participation is ensured by health-care institutions. In situations where the patient has the clearest overview of the whole care trajectory, intensive methods of participation deliver valuable information.
Conclusions: It is important to target participation activities and to capitalize on existing opportunities and activities, rather than creating participation activities for the sake of participation. In this regard, further research on the effectiveness and efficacy of different participatory strategies is necessary.

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Keywords Citizen/patient participation, Health Inspectorate
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Journal Health Expectations: an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy
Adams, S.A, van de Bovenkamp, H.M, & Robben, P.B.M. (2013). Including citizens in institutional reviews: expectations and experiences from the Dutch Healthcare Inspectorate. Health Expectations: an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy, 2013(epub ahead of print), 1–11. doi:10.1111/hex.12126