Putting people first - embedding public involvement in health and social care research

Last updated on 20 May 2024

The Health Research Authority, the National Institute for Health and Care Research and a host of organisations across the UK have been working together to bring about changes which will drive up standards in health and social care research. Together we have signed up to a Shared Commitment to public involvement.

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Embedding public involvement in health and social care research

Public involvement is important, expected and possible in all types of health and social care research.

Together, our organisations and members fund, support and regulate health and social care research. This statement is our joint commitment to improve the extent and quality of public involvement across the sector so that it is consistently excellent.

People have the right to be involved in all health and social care research. Excellent public involvement is an essential part of health and social care research and has been shown to improve its quality and impact. People’s lived experiences should be a key driver for health and social care research.

When we talk about public involvement, we mean all the ways in which the research community works together with people including patients, carers, advocates, service users, and members of the community. Excellent public involvement is inclusive, values all contributions, ensures people have a meaningful say in what happens and influences outcomes, as set out in the UK Standards for Public Involvement.

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Working together we will support the research community to carry out excellent public involvement. We will provide or share guidance, policies, systems, and incentives. We will:

  • listen to and learn from the people and communities we involve and apply and share that learning
  • build and share the evidence of how to involve the public and the impact this has
  • support improvements in equality, diversity, and inclusion in public involvement
  • promote the UK Standards for Public Involvement

We will embed this commitment into the decision-making processes of our organisations.

What is the HRA doing to improve public involvement in health and social care research?

The Health Research Authority has a unique role within the research community to ensure the opportunity, rights, and well-being of people in research.

  1. We know that involving a diverse group of people with lived experiences helps us make better decisions. We will open more opportunity for people with lived experiences to be involved in our planning and decision making.
  2. We want to encourage excellent involvement across the health and social care research landscape. We will learn about and celebrate good practice. We will demonstrate the benefits of involvement for research, for participants and for the public, working with our partners including public contributors.
  3. We want researchers to make excellent patient and public involvement a normal part of their research. We will make sure researchers are aware of our Best Practice Principles and what we expect to see in an application for approval.
  4. Fair and consistent review of research applications earns public trust in research. We will improve how our review committees use insights from good involvement and how they respond to poor involvement when reviewing.

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