Public and (Student) Involvement in Research: an Exercise Scientist’s Experience

By Dr James Gavin

Having been awarded CEL Innovation funding earlier in the year, I have had the pleasure of i) hosting a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in Research seminar series and, when this goes to print (or screen), ii) hosted two patient advisory groups.

The seminar series attracted keynote speakers from: Bournemouth University, the Public Involvement in Education and Research (PIER) partnership, NHS INVOLVE, and the University of Southampton.  The seminars were well-attended by academics, students and the public, and provided examples from research, healthcare and national governance. Feedback from attendees was extremely positive and I am now considering how the series can be further improved for 2018. Although a mixture of undergraduate and postgraduate students registered, attendance was disappointing. This may partly be attributable to seminars running late semester and partly due to a lack of student awareness of Public Involvement across the disciplines. To test this hypothesis (as a ‘scientist’) I am working with a student to host ‘student advisory groups’ to determine: what students think of public involvement, how this varies across faculties and how to embed in to academic courses. Not only will this allow me potential to adapt my teaching, but also to understand how to better promote future public involvement seminars.

The public advisory groups were chaired by a student, physiotherapist and myself, and involved discussion with hip and knee replacement patients to identify:

  1. What factors motivated their recovery after surgery
  2. How their physical activities (and sleep) were influenced after surgery and,
  3. What they want from rehabilitation

Discussions in these groups promise to be really insightful and will inform the research design for a healthcare science project proposal (December 2017). Aside from involving the public, students and academics (in Bournemouth University PIER and the Orthopaedics Research Institute), the project is anticipated to have lasting impacts on my: research, education and cross-faculty practice.

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