New guide to working effectively with public contributors – by public contributors themselves
26 July 2023
Two experienced ARC West public contributors have developed a guide and flowchart to help researchers work effectively with members of the public.
Sarah Biggs and Louise Ting are both long-term public contributors at ARC West, and have clocked up 15 years of involvement in research between them. They have used this wealth of experience to create both a written guide and a diagram aimed at supporting researchers to develop their patient and public involvement (PPI) practice.
PPI is crucial to effective research. The guide, written by Sarah Biggs, highlights where public contributors can add value to the research process. As she explains in the guide:
“One of the main advantages of engaging with public contributors is that they are not entirely focussed on the academic research process, so they have a complementary perspective that helps improve the quality of health and social care research. They want to understand how such research might benefit patients and society at large, as well as represent value for money. They are particularly keen to see good research outcomes implemented and this should form part of your early discussions with them.”
The guide also covers the steps researchers can take to help contributors feel valued. It includes a checklist to help researchers develop meaningful involvement opportunities in their work.
“I wanted to write this guide primarily for researchers to understand the varied background and experience public contributors have and how best to use our skills to enhance and augment their research projects.
“It’s important to have an independent and sometimes critical or questioning voice at the table, particularly one who looks at any project from a service user or public perspective.”
For those who prefer a more visual approach, Louise Ting has developed a diagram that highlights how PPI can be integrated into the research cycle.
Diagram outlining the research process and how patient and public involvement can be embedded in it
Louise has produced two versions of the diagram so it can be used by a range of organisations:
“I was inspired to create something that shows all the different but related ways you can involve people and how that fits into the overall research process. The diagram draws on my experiences of research to date, and adds a level of detail I haven’t seen before in other ones. I hope this resource helps researchers to think about how they can more fully embed PPI into their work for better research outcomes.”