In June 2017, we undertook a project ‘Learning from the first five years of NIHR School for Public Health Research: a public involvement perspective’. More details here.
As we approach the end of our current funding period, we are undertaking an evaluation of public and community involvement (PCI) in SPHR to assess how well we are doing. This is being led by Professor Jennie Popay and Dr Michelle Collins at LiLaC (Lancaster University). The evaluation is ongoing but a report will be available here in March 2022.
We are committed to ensure that the experience of involvement for public partners and SPHR staff is positive and that the impact on our research and other work is maximised.
The specific aims of the proposed evaluation of pubic and community involvement in SPHR are therefore to:
• Capture learning about the experience and impact of PCI in the school’s work to inform the strategy for and practice of public and community involvement in the next phase of SPHR 2022-27
• Provide feedback to our public partners about their contributions to the school’s work
• Contribute to the wider evidence-base on good practice in public involvement and the impact on public health research
Principles underpinning the evaluation
To ensure that the evaluation is conducted in a participatory and efficient manner throughout the process of planning, undertaking, analysing and sharing the findings, we will be guided by the following principles:
• Involvement of public partners in designing and interpreting the results of the evaluation
• Building on evaluative activity already happening across the school to avoid re-inventing the wheel or duplicating effort
• Ensuring findings are useful and relevant to the further development of PCI in SPHR 3
• Sharing findings widely so that other research organisations have access to them
SPHR is organisationally complex working at a range of different levels: academic member; work package, programme, theme and whole-school. We recognise that there will be challenges around this but by identifying these at an early stage we can build actions to mitigate them into our planning. They include:
• Capturing the heterogeneity of experiences around PCI
• Integrating findings from evaluative activity happening at project/work package, programme level and theme level
• Understanding the scale and diversity of public and community involvement in the School’s research and other work
Plan for the evaluation
Public partners have been involved in many ways across SPHR since the 2nd quinquennium started in 2017. This includes involvement in the:
• Design, conduct and governance of research projects
• Governance of research programmes and themes
• Strategic management of SPHR across the School
• Strategic governance of public involvement across the school
As a result the experience and impact of PCI needs to be evaluated in individual research projects/work packages, programmes and themes and at a cross-School level.
Our plans have been informed by the evaluation of public involvement in the NIHR CLAHRC NWC, which was led by the SPHR PCI lead, Professor Jennie Popay. In particular, the design of the evaluation is structured around the two theoretical frameworks that underpinned the CLAHRC NWC evaluation:
- Moser & Moser (2005) mainstreaming framework which focuses upon three domains of organisational change as indicators that a practice has been effectively embedded across an organisation:
- Policy Development
- Policy Implementation
- Gibson et al. (2012)  Involvement Cube model of public involvement knowledge spaces which identifies four dimensions of quality:
- The valuing of different forms of knowledge and understanding
- The ‘strength’ of public voice
- The diversity of involvement approaches
- Professional and organisational commitment to listen to and act on the publics’ priorities
 Ward et al. (2020) Mainstreaming public involvement in a complex research collaboration: a theory-informed evaluation accessed at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/hex.13070
 Moser & Moser (2005) Gender mainstreaming since Beijing: A review of success and limitations in international institutions accessed at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13552070512331332283?needAccess=true
 Gibson et al. (2012) Theoretical directions for an emancipatory concept of patient and public involvement accessed at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1363459312438563
Ethics committee approval
Ethical approval for the evaluation has been applied for from Lancaster University Faculty of Health and Medicine Research Ethics Committee (LU FHM REC).