A partnership and panel event to support NIHR School for Primary Care Research (SPCR) FR15/16 applications
Pre-grant public involvement is vital to relevant and successful research. It is considered the gold-standard approach. In practice, the issue is that before the grant is awarded, there are often no resources available to conduct high quality public and patient involvement (PPI).
With SPCR funding for pre-grant PPI supporting FR15/16 applications, we developed an event to carry out and promote early PPI at the Centre for Academic Primary Care. This served to achieve PPI for these rounds of SPCR applications, foster links between members of the public and researchers and establish early PPI as achievable and accepted culture.
The event comprised a public panel and parallel sessions of Partneropoly – an interactive game where researchers and members of the public work together to find solutions to research questions in order to ‘win’ Partneropoly money.
The members of the public that constituted the panel and Partneropoly lay team members were drawn originally from social media, word of mouth and advertisement on a local health website and newsletter. Some had previously attended PPI groups for specific research groups and some were ‘research naïve’, this being their first encounter with public involvement in primary care research. Overall, the members of the public were demographically diverse in addition to having diversity of healthcare experience.
How the panel worked
Researchers were invited to pitch for a place on the panel by filling in a short Google form with a plain English description of their project and where they felt they needed public input (comment was not restricted to these areas!). Researchers found this exercise helpful in writing to a lay audience.
Members of the panel received the summaries to read and consider in advance of the event. A lay member of the CAPC Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) steering group, Gail Thornton, offered communication before the event to help any panel members with queries and led the group on the day.
Researchers led with a brief verbal summary and the communication was opened between the researcher and the panel members. Questions were posed from both sides and researchers found that the discussion both validated current ideas and brought new angles and insight. One researcher commented that the panel “brought depth to the research”. Areas of research were wide ranging and panel members felt able to contribute whether they had direct personal experience of the areas or as interested members of the public.
Getting involved with Partneropoly
Partneropoly was customised for the event, ensuring questions were based around primary care research and public involvement. Researchers teamed up with members of the public and engaged in multi-viewpoint discussions on how to involve members of the public in primary care research. Discussions were prompted by combinations of stimulus cards and squares landed upon.
Despite having no prior knowledge of the concept and some arriving with trepidation, researchers were pleasantly surprised at the value of the exercise and the wealth of knowledge and community contacts possessed by the public contributors. Public contributors felt that researchers were interested in what they had to say and one commented: “Partneropoly is a great way of getting academics and the public to interact in a meaningful, ‘level playing field’ way whilst being relatively fun and informal.”
Through this event, public contributors have been able to express an interest in working further on specific projects and researchers have gained public collaborators. We are also in the process of building a future PPI ‘core’ group, including public members who took part in this event.
Both researchers and public contributors consider this SPCR funded event to have been a huge success and believe that it will result in higher quality, publicly relevant research. The event has raised the profile of public involvement within the centre and helped remove barriers (real and perceived) to gaining public input into CAPC research. It also provided a fresh outlook on ways of collaborating.
Thank you to the members of the public who contributed to the panel and the Partneropoly sessions, the CAPC PPIE steering group, Jan Connett from Bristol Health Partners, the researchers of CAPC who chose to involve the public in their research, and, of course, the SPCR who funded the event.
This post was first published on the NIHR SPCR website.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR:
- funds high quality research to improve health
- trains and supports health researchers
- provides world-class research facilities
- works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
- involves patients and the public at every step
For further information, visit the NIHR website www.nihr.ac.uk.