Wednesday 14 January 2015

How can we demonstrate the benefits of involving the public in research?

NHS Research and Development North West Catalyst Event

Over 100 people, the public and from research, gathered for an Open Space workshop at Aintree. 

The question for the day was - How can we demonstrate the benefit of involving the public in research?

Each word conjures up many different perceptions and understandings - HOW, WE, DEMONSTRATE, BENEFITS, INVOLVING, the PUBLIC and in RESEARCH?

Let me invite you to think differently by changing one word in that question so that it reads... How can we demonstrate the benefits of involving the public in SPORT?

This change in the question immediately makes us want more information, to seek much further clarification, to be far more precise?

We would probably begin by asking which sport. So what is the CONTEXT?

We might ask whether it personal fitness or part of the team. So PURPOSE is important. Are we part of a team (from cleaning the boots to playing on the field), watching (home or at game), helping (local team or Games events), personal fitness (in general, following illness or accident, loose weight). Ewe need to be far clearer in defining the PURPOSE

How many goals am I expected to score? Am I coaching or driving the coach? Am I helping organise TASK 

I blog as an individual, I may be part of a team when I am working with researchers, I am part of an organisation in my work. 


You cannot measure someone's benefit of taking part in football training if you take them to a badminton game. Yes, there might be a benefit of involving them in sport but it can only be measured against by definition of what they choose to do and how effective it has been. You cannot measure the benefit of watching the game against the physical taking part.
  1. Place the involvement in CONTEXT (in terms of the organisation, the research, the people)
  2. Define the PURPOSE 
  3. Make the TASK specific and produce an EXPLICIT AGREEMENT 
  4. Assess the BENEFIT to the research, the researchers and the public
Only then can you effectively ASSESS the value and benefit (research, researchers, public)

1. Football or badminton; is it active involvement or active engagement
2. Am I a supporter, am I playing, refereeing or managing?
3. What is is expected from me and of the others involved? time, costs, commitment
4. Am I fitter? Have I enjoyed taking part? Has my team won? Are we celebrating?

And in all of sport we begin by giving people choices about what the individual wants to do?

Let's, at least be clear about the game, the rules we should abide by and opportunities that we have to contribute and take part in a way that best suits research and our needs. Let us work together to offer a broad range of opportunities to suit the needs of research and those who get involved.

It is also really important to remember those whose voices are least heard and communities who are unrepresented.

Visual recording by @visualminutes

Twitter: @NHSNWRD

Linkedin: NHS R&D North West

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