The HRA and public involvement in research

As set out in our strategy on public involvement, the HRA is committed to improving the level and quality of public involvement in health and social care research. We know that public involvement can help to make health and social care research ethical by:

  • Making research more relevant so that the research results are more likely to be useful and of benefit to patients and the public;
  • Helping to define what is acceptable to participants particularly in controversial or sensitive research;
  • Improving the process of informed consent making it easier for prospective participants to understand the research and potential risks;
  • Improving the experience of participating in research checking that the practical arrangements for participants are appropriate and a respectful use of people’s time; and
  • Improving the communication of findings to participants and the wider public providing information on the progress of the research as well as the final results.

What work is the HRA undertaking on public involvement in research?

The HRA is undertaking a programme of work to support and encourage researchers to involve patients and the public in their work and at the earliest opportunity. From this, we hope to see an increase in the amount and quality of public involvement in research applications to Research Ethics Committees.

As part of this work, the HRA and INVOLVE launched an evidence briefing and guidance on public involvement and ethical review which are available on our public involvement in research resource page .

Researchers who apply for ethical approval from Research Ethics Committees are required to say in their application whether and how they have involved the public in their research. We will continue to monitor levels of public involvement in these applications. To view the latest report, click here.

We will keep this page updated as our work programme on public involvement progresses. If you have any questions or feedback in the meantime, please contact us.