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Patient involvement increases public confidence in health research

Published on 22 November 2013

An Ipsos MORI survey of 1,295 British adults has shown that public confidence in health research studies can be increased by knowing that patients have advised on the design of the study.

Patient and public involvement in research has long been considered as an important element in ensuring more robust study designs, minimising dropout rates and leading to more meaningful patient outcomes. Health researchers are often encouraged to involve patients and the public in the design of their studies, but some researchers may not have understood this. They therefore may not have consistently communicated the benefits to potential participants in the recruitment process.

However, this survey, commissioned by the Health Research Authority (HRA), showed that 77% of adults surveyed said that if they were made aware that a Research Ethics Committee had reviewed a health research study it would increase their confidence in the study.

Similarly, 44% of respondents thought that involving patients to ensure that the information given to participants was easily understandable and meaningful would increase their confidence in the study. A further 49% were not sure either way, with very few thinking it would reduce their confidence.

This suggests that, if health researchers communicate the fact that patients and the public have been involved in the design of their research when approaching potential study participants, it might help to boost recruitment. It also shows the importance of building awareness of the benefits of patient and public involvement in health research.

Simon Denegri, Director of INVOLVE, said:

“The HRA survey is significant in pointing to the fact that potential participants in research draw encouragement from knowing their fellow citizens have been involved in its design. It adds to the growing body of evidence showing public involvement adds value to research. The essential message to funders is that if they make the effort to enlist the help of patients and the public, they will see returns in the quality of their research as well as in the effectiveness and efficiency of its delivery.’

Amanda Hunn, of the HRA, who oversaw the projects, commented:

‘With support and funding from Sciencewise, we have been able to able to carry out a wide-ranging exercise to understand public perceptions of health research. We were then able to use a survey, which we are reporting today, to quantify some of the views emerging from the workshops.

Amanda Hunn is available for interview on the series of studies outlined above. Further details are available from:

Gordon Harrison, Head of Communications, gordon.harrison@nhs.net, 0207 972 2609


Full press release


Published in News, Patients and public, Press Release