Innovating public engagement and patient involvement through strategic collaboration and practice

Leah Holmes, Katharine Cresswell, Susannah Williams, Suzanne Parsons, Annie Keane, Cassia Wilson, Safina Islam, Olivia Joseph, Jahanara Miah, Emily Robinson, Isabella Starling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patient and public involvement and engagement is an important and expected component of health-related research activity in the UK. Specifically within the healthresearch sphere, public engagement (usually defined as raising awareness of research) and patient involvement (usually defined as actively involving people in research) havetraditionally been seen as separate but have much to gain from working together towards a common goal of better health outcomes for all.

Methods: This paper describes a unique approach taken by the Public Programmes Team: a small interdisciplinary team of public engagement specialists, with backgrounds in science, community development, public engagement and involvement, policy, ethics, communications, industry museums and creative practice, embedded within translational research infrastructure and delivery in Manchester in the North West of England. We propose a new model of professional practice – a ‘cycle of engagement and involvement’ – innovating across the complementary fields of public engagement and patient involvement, and working inclusively and in partnership with people in health research. Further, our approach capitalises on strategic collaboration offering economies of scale and a joined up way of working. Our ambition is to boldly experiment, learn and reflect, responsibly and based on evidence and partnerships, using methods of engagement that address issues of social justice.

Results: Here, we report on preliminary case studies exemplifying the impact of our approach, and data relating to achievements and learning between April 2017 and March 2018. Informed by our findings, we propose that our approach has the potential to be replicated elsewhere.

Conclusions: Our practice and the beginning of its evaluation lead us to believe that our way of working and model of professional practice – the ‘cycle’ of engagement and involvement – is effective in: addressing our vision of making health research relevant and inclusive for everyone; and embedding and joining up public involvement in a busy and fertile translational health research ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Involvement and Engagement
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2019


  • Patient and public involvement
  • Public engagement
  • Health research
  • Inclusion
  • Diversity


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