Kati Turner has worked as a service user researcher at the Population Health Research Institute at St George’s, University of London, since 2005. As part of her role she helped to set up and currently co-facilitates the Peer Expertise in Education and Research (PEER) Group, made up of service users and carers interested in contributing to research and education. Kati has a particular interest in service user involvement and collaborative partnerships and evaluating the impact of these on the research process and findings. She also undertakes freelance work in the public and patient involvement field, including INVOLVE and the Research Design Service.
I found this a very useful and enjoyable discussion and was pleased to be given the opportunity to contribute to the debate. A number of points stood out for me. The language we use to define involvement: in some areas ‘participation’, ‘engagement’ and ‘involvement’ are used interchangeably when they mean different things. This could have a negative effect on any future impact evaluation.
‘Coproduction’ is being used increasingly in the research and health field; what impact does this have? Should we widen out the area we are evaluating to incorporate all research perspectives, rather than just the public and patient one? Should we unpick in more detail the different areas that involvement can impact upon? For example, impact on the research process; research findings; on the people involved; on future research work; on values and ethos, on system models and, finally, on services and service delivery.
Should we also focus on research where involvement has presented challenges – for example, in projects where knowledge about involvement is lacking or has been more of a tick box affair. We should also think about the methodology for assessing impact – there is no set way but a sharing of what we have used and what has worked in different settings would be useful. We need to know more about who is interested in impact and why – where does the power lie in commissioning/funding this area? Should research funders impose the same obligation on researchers to evaluate the impact of public and patient involvement as they do on providing it??