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

NSH National Institute for Health Research

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Questions & Answers

Section A: Why involve the public?



1. Why should I involve people who use services in research & development?

There are many reasons for involving people who use services in in R&D. We outline some of them below. You can find more information about why it is important to involve the public in our publication "Involving the public in NHS, public health and social care research: Briefing Notes for Researchers". Being clear about why you want to involve people who use services will help you to identify who it is appropriate to involve and how best to involve them.

  • People who use services will be able to offer different perspectives. You may be an expert in your field, but that does not mean to say you can see all the perspectives on what occurs in the area of your research interest
  • People who use services can help to ensure that issues that are identified and prioritised are important to them and therefore to health care, public health and social care services as a whole.
  • Public involvement can help to ensure that money and resources aren’t wasted on research that has little or no relevance.
  • People who use services can help to ensure that research doesn’t just measure outcomes that are identified and considered important by professionals.
  • People who use services can help with the recruitment of their peers for research projects.
  • People who use services can help access people who are often marginalised, such as people from black and minority ethnic communities.
  • People who use services can help to disseminate the results of research and work to ensure that changes are implemented.
  • Involvement in research, done well, can help empower people who use services.
  • The involvement of consumers is also becoming an increasing political priority.

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2. Why do members of the public choose to get involved in R&D?

People who use services may have a number of reasons for wanting to get involved in R&D:

  • to improve treatment services for themselves and those who come after them
  • for many people research may be a means to an end and they are likely to want to know what will happen as a result of research
  • to identify problems related to the treatment or service they are offered
  • to influence the research agenda in a way that makes research more effective
  • to identify gaps in knowledge related to specific treatments or conditions which they feel need research
  • to ensure that the issues which are a priority for people are addressed
  • to ensure that future R&D is relevant to the needs of a specific group of people
  • to identify existing research which is not being disseminated or implemented, which could improve treatments or services
  • to ensure that R&D is undertaken in an ethical way

When you seek to involve the public in a research project, it is important to understand their reasons for wanting to become involved, as well as explaining your reasons for wanting to involve them.

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Last Updated 06/11/2009 17:23:09
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