The Health Research Board and Irish Research Council have announced a new €1.75million initiative to help researchers involve the public at the very start of the health research process. It is the first of its kind in Ireland. Trinity College Dublin is one of a few recipients of this award. The PPI Ignite Programme is led by Professor Mary McCarron, an internationally recognised champion of PPI.
Currently research proposals are written by researchers, in research institutions. While researchers may need patients or the public to be involved in the research, they rarely ask for their input at the design stage. According to a recent HRB survey, this is not because researchers don’t want to, but because they don’t know how to go about it.
The Health Research Board and Irish Research Council funding scheme is designed to help institutions create the right environment, training, support and processes to help researchers engage public and patients in their research from the start.
Research is considered ‘engaged’ when it is developed in collaboration with patients, community members and partner organisations, rather than for or about them. Such public and patient involvement (PPI) in research improves the relevancy of the research question, the quality of the approach, and the likelihood that what is discovered through the research can and will be used. Public, patient involvement increases accountability for how public monies are spent and recognises that knowledge exists across society.
“The TCD-PPI Ignite award will allow Trinity to engage researchers, members of the public and patients to advance quality research, share good practice, and develop tools and techniques to underpin sustained involvement,” said Professor Mary McCarron, lead applicant and Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.
“The TCD-PPI Ignite team includes national and international leaders in engaged research who employ a variety of methods, offering real-world projects as exemplars and a network of best practice,” said Sarah Bowman, Ignite Programme Director.
The PPI Ignite programme office in Trinity will provide central coordination for PPI activities, including the development of tools and resources. Regularly scheduled training workshops, networking events, drop-in clinics, online modules, proposal development assistance, and other resources will advance engaged research at Trinity College.
The PPI Ignite team at Trinity anticipate that patients and members of the public will be involved in:
- Identifying research priorities and asking research questions;
- Informing the design and development of research programmes;
- Contributing to data collection and analyses through citizen science and other programmes;
- Serving on advisory and governance boards for research;
- Acting as ambassadors to communicate and translate research findings;
- Advocating for the adoption and implementation of research outputs by government agencies;
- Utilising research findings to advocate for health and well-being.
The PPI Ignite team will:
- Broaden the group of health researchers across all disciplines who meaningfully involve members of the public and patients in their research in accordance with the core principles and values of the PPI Ignite award;
- Improve the quality of PPI approaches in health and social care research and promote interactions that are seen as fruitful and beneficial to both researchers and PPI contributors;
- Assist research stakeholders in collaborating nationally and internationally through a network of good practice and exemplars, thereby positioning researchers for national and international success.
‘No one has more to gain from health research than patients who are already using health services, or the public who are all potential users. It makes sense to involve the public and patients at the outset to ensure that their life experience informs the approach taken when designing a research proposal,’ explains Dr Máiread O Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the Health Research Board.