Aim: The session aims to share a prototype workshop on evaluating public involvement in research.
Background: Public involvement (PI) in research has been steadily advancing in recent years. In the UK, we have strong policy commitment to PI in research, including the recent development of National Standards for PI. It has become increasingly important to evaluate PI in research to (i) improve the quality of PI, and hence the quality of research, (ii) evidence the impact of PI and encourage stakeholders to commit to having PI in research, (iii) justify funding and other resources for PI, (iv) assure members of the public that they are making a difference or provide reasons if not, and (v) facilitate planning for future projects.
Several approaches to evaluating PI in research have been developed. These are wide-ranging, from simple to in-depth, depending on the level of robustness required. To help researchers select the most appropriate approach for their research, the lead author, in collaboration with PI colleagues at the University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol, published an online guidance document on evaluating PI in research in May 2018. This guidance document was downloaded 65 times in two weeks from countries including the United States, Canada and across Europe.
Recognising the demand for more practical PI evaluation tools, the UWE PI team then developed and internally piloted a workshop on evaluating PI in research. This workshop was delivered for the first time at UWE’s Centre for Appearance Research Away Day in June 2018. Plans are in progress for further roll out of the workshop.
Methods: This 60-minute ‘taster’ of the longer prototype workshop will primarily be important to PI research leads, research team members, and public contributors. It broadly has four sections, starting with an introduction, where we ‘set the scene’, discussing the complex issues surrounding PI evaluation, e.g. whether PI should be thought of as an intervention or a conversation. We will then discuss three evidence-based PI evaluation approaches to help navigate through those issues – a pragmatic approach, a participatory action approach, and the comprehensive Public Involvement Impact Assessment Framework (PiiAF). Delegates will be signposted to other relevant key resources, such as the NIHR policy and National Standards for PI. They will have opportunity throughout the workshop to comment and provide feedback on the material being introduced.
Outcomes: This workshop is a learning process, where we aim to provide a safe and constructive environment for delegates to try something new. Delegates will have the opportunity to reflect upon developing a practical approach to evaluating PI in research to support their own PI practice. In addition, they may wish to share their learning on evaluating PI in research with others at their respective organisations – delegates may request to adopt and adapt workshop content for this purpose, with appropriate acknowledgements. We may set up an online ‘aftercare’ forum, where delegates can send us feedback on their experiences of using the resources, make suggestions for improvements, and generally discuss the issues they are facing in efforts to evaluate PI.