Abstract: Involving and engaging the public are crucial to help prioritise, disseminate and implement research about the environment and health. In the past, meaningful public involvement in this field has been limited by disputes about the truth, power inequalities and political activism. Funders and policy makers often see involvement as vital to building trust and justifying the investment of public money. In public health research, researchers find it difficult to know which ‘public’ to engage. It is therefore vital for researchers and policy makers, as well as public contributors, to share best practice and explore the challenges of involvement in this complex area of research.
This article presents a case study of the contributions made by the Health and Environment Public Engagement Group to the work of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Change and Health (HPRU-ECH). The authors describe how the Health and Environment Public Engagement Group provided researchers with their views on multiple aspects of the research work, discussed ongoing research issues at meetings, and supported dissemination to local government partners. They conclude that institutional support for standing public involvement groups can provide a way to connect the public with policy makers and academic institutions. This can enable public involvement and engagement, which would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in individual short-term and unconnected research projects.
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Categories: public health reflecting on public involvement in research journal article
Date Entered: 2019/03/18
Date Edited: 2019/03/18