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Professionals and the public: power or partnership in health research?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Lisa Robinson, Emerita Professor Julia Newton


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Rationale, aims and objectives Involving members of the public in health research is said to produce higher quality research of greater clinical relevance. However, many of the anecdotal accounts of public involvement published in the academic literature to date have focused on the process of recruiting and involving members of the public and the effect of participation on these individuals rather than on how public involvement influenced the research process or outcomes. To strengthen the evidence base, there is clearly a need for more formal methods of capturing and documenting the impact of public involvement in health research. Methods In the first half of this paper, we discuss the importance of public involvement in health research and critically review the literature to identify current barriers to its successful implementation. In the second half, we present a conceptual model for evaluating and reporting the impact of public involvement in health research. Developed from our examination of the academic literature, we provide empirical support for the model by applying it to our recent experience of conducting a clinically based falls prevention study with members of the public. Results The conceptual model presented in this paper proposes key concepts and terminology that promote consistency when evaluating and reporting the impact of public involvement in health research. Reflecting on the experiential learning process, we demonstrate how the model promotes conceptual clarity whilst permitting the degree of flexibility required when working in a diverse culture such as the National Health Service. Conclusion If more evidence can be provided that public involvement enhances research processes and outcomes, researchers may be less inclined to treat this initiative as something they have to do in order to satisfy funding agencies and regulatory bodies and actively embrace this phenomenon, producing accounts of successful public involvement that transcend current barriers to its successful implementation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robinson L, Newton J, Dawson P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice

Year: 2012

Volume: 18

Issue: 2

Pages: 276-282

Print publication date: 30/11/2010

ISSN (print): 1356-1294

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2753

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2010.01572.x


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