One way to achieve this is through active collaboration with service users and members of the public, both in applied health research and in the decision- making practices of health and social care commissioners and providers. Most UK health research funders now expect applicants to include details on patient and public involvement (PPI) in proposed work.

Recent years have seen the emergence of the role of PPI lead, tasked with enabling sustainable collaborations between service users, researchers, clinicians and other partners. These leads are central to the successful integration of PPI in research, therefore mapping their skills, and the resources and support necessary to be effective in their role is essential to ensure inclusive and impactful involvement practice.

The aims of our research 

We are conducting two interrelated projects:

● Project 1: A mixed-methods study to identify existing approaches to PPI in health and social care commissioning

● Project 2: The role of PPI leads in research

These two interrelated projects will:

● Explore how PPI is embedded in, and impacts, commissioning and service development within a changing NHS commissioning landscape

● Develop an evidence-based toolkit on optimising PPI in commissioning

● Contribute to the theoretical understanding of PPI using an interdisciplinary approach and innovative methodologies (e.g. relationship mapping)

● Explore how the PPI national standards are embedded in different research contexts

● Examine the barriers and facilitators to PPI engagement with seldom heard and underserved groups, people experiencing multimorbidities and health inequalities

● Utilise learning from both projects to strengthen PPI practice in all aspects of health and social care and in collaborative research environments.

How our work is addressing multimorbidities and inequalities

Working with a wide range of community and social care groups from a range of backgrounds, the projects will ensure that multimorbidities and inequalities are addressed. Project 1 will be exploring the impact of PPI, and representativeness across diverse groups, in commissioning. Project 2 focuses on examining how PPI practitioners engage with multimorbidities and health inequalities and how their insights can inform processes of care systems’ integration. The projects will be informed by regular presentations and collaborative work with the ARC strategic oversight group (SOG) and service user and public advisory groups.

Our collaborators 

Collaborators include:

● ARC South London PPI coordinator

● ARC South London public health and multimorbidity theme

● ARC South London economics and biostatistics theme

● ARC East of England: Inclusive involvement in research theme

● PPI leads in the wider ARC community

● NHS Confederation

● Local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), Healthwatch groups, local authorities and social care organisations, service user and carer organisations, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), NHS Trusts, public health and primary care groups.

How we are involving patients, services users, carers and public

The methodological approaches employed for both projects will ensure that patients, service users, carers and the public play a key role in all aspects of the projects.

Project 2 is led by a service user researcher and many PPI leads are themselves service users and carers. Service users, carers and the public will be represented on advisory groups. Active participants will have authorship on academic papers and advisory groups will be acknowledged.