What is 'Public Involvement' in research?

Public involvement in health and social care is research being carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public, rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them. 

This includes, for example, working with research funders to prioritise research, offering advice or expertise as members of a project steering group, commenting on and developing research materials, undertaking interviews with research participants.

This is how INVOLVE – a national advisory group on public involvement – define it, and is the definition we use.

Public involvement is also often referred to as 'Patient and Public Involvement' or 'PPI'. 

Who can be a public contributor?

Anyone. Really.

The term public, for us, means anyone, including patients, potential patients, carers and people who use health and social care services, as well as people from organisations that represent people who use services.

It doesn't matter what your background is, your age, sex, race, religion or level of education. Everyone has something worthwhile to contribute.

At CLAHRC Oxford we call members of the public who get involved in this way 'PPI contributors'  but many other terms are used by other organisations to mean the same role, such as 'PPI representatives', 'patient advocate', 'lay researcher', 'public partner' and so on.

WHY involve the public in research?

What researchers and clinicians might think is an important health or social care issue to research might not be the same as what patients think is important.

Without hearing the lived experience and thoughts of patients and the public this information – which is vital to making sure we're doing the right research – can get lost or ignored.

PPI contributors can make a difference to health research by:

  • identifying new topics for research and ensuring that topics are relevant to patients, carers and members of the public
  • making sure that researchers ask the right questions and in a way that the public understand
  • keeping the research on track so that it stays relevant
  • making sure the people being researched are approached in the right way
  • improving the quality of the research by adding another point of view to the design and way that the research is carried out.

Our PPI Strategy

You can view or download our PPI strategy by clicking here (.pdf).

We welcome any feedback you may have. You can reach us on:

Phone1865 289300.

Email: ppi@phc.ox.ac.uk