Supporting public involvement
in NHS, public health and
social care research

NSH National Institute for Health Research

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INVOLVE was established to promote public involvement in research, in order to improve the way that research is prioritised, commissioned, undertaken, communicated and used. We believe that the active involvement of the public in the research process leads to research that is more relevant to people and is more likely to be used. Research which reflects the needs and views of the public, is more likely to produce results that can be used to improve practice in health and social care.

We use the term ‘public’ to include:

  • patients and potential patients;
  • people who use health and social services;
  • informal carers;
  • parents/guardians;
  • disabled people;
  • members of the public who are potential recipients of health promotion programmes, public health programmes and social service interventions;
  • groups asking for research because they believe they have been exposed to potentially harmful subtances or products (e.g. pesticides or asbestos);
  • organisations that represent people who use services.


The term ‘the public’ also embraces the rich diversity of people in our multi-cultural society whether defined by age, colour, race, ethnicity or nationality, disability, gender or sexuality who may have different needs and concerns. These need to be taken into account in our policies, procedures and practices.

By ‘involvement’ we mean:

An active partnership between the public and researchers in the research process, rather than the use of people as the ‘subjects’ of research. Active involvement may take the form of consultation, collaboration or user control. Many people define public involvement in research as doing research ‘with’ or ‘by’ the public, rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ the public. This would include, for example, public involvement in advising on a research project, assisting in the design of a project, or in carrying out the research.

INVOLVE meets four times a year and includes a broad mix of service users, informal carers, representatives of voluntary organisations, health and social services managers and researchers.  Members of the main Group are appointed by the Director of Research, at the Department of Health.  INVOLVE reports through the Steering Group for National Programmes to the Director of Research. 

INVOLVE is supported by a Coordinating Centre based in Eastleigh, Hampshire. Staff are employed by the University of Leeds.

For further information we have a leaflet explaining the work of INVOLVE.  See our Easy Read Leaflet .

To find out more about our work please visit the other sections in About INVOLVE and read our INVOLVE Strategic Plan 2007-2011.

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