Research Design Service: East Midlands
National Institute for Health Research
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Researchers are ‘missing a trick’ with public involvement

  Created on Monday, 15 Jan 2018. Posted in Public Involvement

A new HRA study has highlighted the fact that health researchers are 'missing a trick' by not demonstrating how patients and the public have contributed to the design and conduct of research.

The study showed that 63% of applicants claimed to have involved the public, but analysis revealed that only 36% of applications reflected the accepted definition of public involvement, with researchers often make simple statements along the lines of ‘Patients and carers were involved in the design of this study’. This makes it difficult to judge whether the involvement has shaped the study design in any way that would make it more ethically acceptable. 18% of researchers who described involvement in the design of their study were planning to do this after REC review. Good practice would be to include involvement before REC review, to improve the ethical acceptability of research and inform the ethical review process.