In the United Kingdom, the Department of Health and many funding bodies increasingly expect public involvement in health and social care research. However, members of the public are often still only involved in research as subjects/participants, or in a limited consultative capacity. Although little has been published about researchers’ attitudes, it is known that some champion involvement whilst others resist greater public involvement in research, through fears articulated in terms of control and quality maintenance. Including non-professionals and non-academics as full team members invariably impacts on how research is conducted, and demands that researchers ‘do’ research in ways with which they are not necessarily familiar or comfortable. In particular, researchers may need to re-examine constructions of ‘research’ and the researcher role, and the relationship between ‘expert’ (professional/academic) and ‘situated’ (non-professional/academic) knowledge. In this chapter, the authors discuss these issues in relation to current practice and the wider literature concerning public involvement in health and social care, while also drawing on their own experiences within research teams whose membership included service users and/or carers. Key aspects of these reflections include recognition of researchers’ preconceptions about public involvement in research; perceptions of academic-public power relationships within the research process; and positions researchers adopt with a view to optimising research outputs.
Pollard, K., & Evans, D. (2013). Theorising service user involvement from a researcher perspective. In P. Staddon (Ed.), Mental Health Service Users in Research: Critical Sociological Perspectives, 39-51. Policy Press