Types of consumer roles


There are five 5 main types of consumer involvement:

  • Partner
  • Expert
  • Adviser
  • Advocate
  • Personal engagement.

All 5 roles are required for successful consumer involvement. The most important thing is to recognise which role is best suited to each purpose.

For example, the expert and partner roles are needed for:

  • participating place consumers on high-level committees or 
  • being involved them in strategic planning

And the personal engagement, advocate and advisory roles are best suited for:

  • improving consumers’ own health literacy
  • giving feedback on printed material
  • working in small project groups.


Partners have essential knowledge necessary for health reform, research and policy development, and system change. They are considered equal partners, and are valued for their significant knowledge as a consumer.

Partnering is also referred to as co-designing.


Experts are recognised for their high-quality expertise, and are involved in high-level advisory committees, organisational boards or major projects. They are knowledgeable across a broad range of cancer care and control issues and are supported by a network of consumers who advise and inform their work.


Advisers can give advice, based on experience, to influence decisions. They participate by providing opinions and guidance from a consumer needs perspective. They generally work together with a diverse group of stakeholders to advise about cancer services, research organisations, government and nongovernment organisations (NGOs). Their aim us to influence outcomes from the consumer viewpoint.


Advocates are the most common consumer role. They represent the broad views and experiences of a range of people affected by cancer.

Consumer advocates work for:

  • improved information and support for consumers
  • better cancer services and coordinated care
  • better research and policy
  • getting consumers involved in decision-making.

Their role is particularly important with those groups of consumers whose voice is not always heard, such as rural, remote and regional consumers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Expert consumers are sought because of their strong consumer expertise, their longstanding consumer involvement and their ability to engage with a diverse range of consumers to help them present the consumer perspective.

Personal engagement

Personal engagement consumers actively participate to raise awareness from a personal perspective. They provide feedback to help services understand what’s working well and what’s not working, from a consumer viewpoint. Consumers share stories, and participate in focus groups, surveys and targeted working groups.