What is public involvement?
Public involvement is about members of the public working in active partnerships with researchers and research organisations. It’s also known as patient and public involvement, or PPI.
The term ‘public’ includes patients, potential patients, carers and people who use health and social care services, as well as people from organisations, such as community groups, that represent people who use services. A ‘public contributor’ is a member of the public who gets involved in how the research is designed and run.
We use NIHR INVOLVE’s definition of public involvement. NIHR INVOLVE is the national advisory group on public involvement:
“Public involvement in research is research carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them.”
Involvement can include:
- identifying research topics and questions of importance to patients and service users
- offering advice and feedback as a member of a project’s steering group
- commenting on and helping to develop research materials such as information sheets for patients, interview guides or questionnaires.
- conducting interviews with research participants
- helping to share research findings and get research evidence into practice
But public involvement is different from:
- Engagement – where information and knowledge about research is shared
- Participation – where people take part in a research study as participants, or subjects
How to get involved
CLAHRC West conducts health research projects and helps to get research evidence into practice. We need members of the public to help guide the research we do.
To get involved you don’t need any medical experience or specialist knowledge. You do need an interest in health research, some time to spare and a willingness to share your thoughts and ideas with us. We want to work with you to find how your experiences can help shape our research. We offer payment for your time, agreed in advance, and cover reasonable expenses.
Sometimes we need patients, service users or carers with relevant experience for a research study. This might include people with a particular health problem, who have had particular treatments or used specific services, or are from a particular social group.
To find out more, get in touch with Rosie Davies, Research Fellow (PPI), on 0117 328 8469 or email: Rosemary3.Davies@uwe.ac.uk. Opportunities to get involved are also advertised in a newsletter called Newsflash.
Public involvement in the west of England
We have a public involvement team and strategy group hosted by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). The team works across four health networks in the region, including CLAHRC West, the West of England Academic Health Science Network, the NIHR Clinical Research Network: West of England and Bristol Health Partners. These partners work with NHS trusts, local authorities and other service providers, clinical commissioning groups, universities, Healthwatch and the NIHR Research Design Service South West.
This public involvement team is called People in Health West of England, and is led by UWE Bristol and has eight staff. People in Health West of England is advised by a strategy group which has eight public contributor members, alongside staff members from the partner organisations. The strategy group links to, and builds on, existing patient and public involvement activities already taking place in research, service delivery and commissioning in the region.
This joined up approach to patient and public involvement creates the opportunity for integrated and strategic involvement, where the public can have a strong voice in health research and care, helping to improve the health of people in the west.
Alongside work to support public involvement in CLAHRC West, People in Health West of England provides shared resources for involvement including:
- working to improve inclusion and increase the diversity of those involved
- providing learning and development opportunities
- supporting the evaluation of involvement activities
- supporting broader public engagement
Two public contributors on the strategy group focus on the work of CLAHRC West. As part of CLAHRC West’s 2016 research projects call, we reviewed research proposals from professional researchers and helped members of the public to develop and submit their own research ideas. We also encourage and advise on involvement in research projects.
We work closely with Bristol Health Partners Health Integration Teams (HITs), which focus on a specific health issue or condition, and aim to translate research evidence into improvements in health services and care. All Health Integration Teams have a strong commitment to effective patient and public involvement, and many have public contributors on their executive groups.
Public involvement in the West of England Academic Health Science Network is led by Hildegard Dumper, who can be contacted on Hildegard.Dumper@weahsn.net.
Public involvement in the Clinical Research Network: West of England is supported by Maxine Taylor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Their focus for 2016/17 is the patient experience survey and working on the patient ambassadors scheme.
More information and guidance about patient and public involvement is available from: