What is public involvement in research?

‘Public involvement’ is when health and social care researchers and research organisations work in active partnership with members of the public. This is often described as research being carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them. It is also sometimes called Patient and Public involvement or PPI.

Why is public involvement important?

Involving people who have personal knowledge and experience of a research topic as a patient, service user or carer will strengthen and improve the quality of your research and make it more relevant. In some research projects you may need to consider involving wider stakeholders  (e.g practitioners, service providers, commissioners) as well as members of the public. This might be by working with you to:

  • shape and clarify the research question
  • comment on your application
  • identify relevant outcomes
  • develop research materials and information that is clear and easy to read
  • offer advice as a public member on your research advisory board
  • identify practical issues that might affect recruitment
  • carry out the research and interview participants
  • suggest ways to share the findings of your research

It is important to involve members of the public as early as possible in developing your funding application. We can offer advice and support you to plan public involvement in your research. Find out more about our public involvement fund and view our video on developing public involvement in your research.

“It was a dream process – a co-designed project – they came up with the idea, I refined it with them, they went to the RDS and did much of the legwork and we are now 2 years into the research.”
Find out more about this project.

Many research funders including the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) ask researchers to describe how they are going to involve members of the public in the different stages of their research. NIHR funding applications are reviewed by a range of experts which include patients, service users, carers and the public.

 

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