Evidence Library

Title: Exploring the Relationship (and Power Dynamic) Between Researchers and Public Partners Working Together in Applied Health Research Teams.
Author: Gill Green and Tracey Johns
Date Published: 2019
Reference: Frontiers in Sociology 4:20
Are service users or carers authors: No/Not Known

Abstract: Public involvement in applied health research in the UK is sometimes a requirement for funding, for example from the National Institute of Health Research. However, much of this involvement has been criticised as being tokenistic, with unequal power dynamics meaning that the public are consulted but may be ignored. To redress this imbalance other approaches such as co-production have emerged. This paper explores the relationship and power dynamic between researchers and public partners. Fourteen researchers and six public contributors from co-produced projects were interviewed about their experience. Public involvement was valued, but scientific and lay knowledge was not often considered equal. In practice, public partners were often slotted into a designated role created for them by the researcher/research team. In two cases, power was shared in making decisions about the research topic. However, establishing an equal relationship and sharing power was limited by the hierarchical nature of applied health research, as well as issues around governance and accountability. Specifically, the tendency to privilege classically scientific ways of thinking was a barrier to the public’s experiential knowledge being equally valued. Research practices, culture and hierarchies need to be transformed for power sharing to become a reality.

Related entry: none currently available

Categories: all
nature and extent of public involvement in research
reflecting on public involvement in research
journal article

Date Entered: 2019/04/08

Date Edited: 2019/04/08

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