What is patient and public involvement?

Patient and public involvement (PPI) is the philosophy that research is carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them. PPI enables people affected by a condition as ‘experts by experience’ to work with academics and clinicians to conduct high quality, relevant research.

Meaningful PPI moves beyond communicating science to the public, to involve people in the design and delivery of research.

PPI does not refer to the recruitment of participants to a study. Although participation, engagement and involvement can be linked, and each forms an important part of research, they are considered to be distinct activities. For example:

Participation might include completing a questionnaire, being interviewed for a study or taking part in a clinical trial

Engagement activities might include seminars or events to communicate the results of a research project or raise public awareness of research.

Involvement might include inviting patients and the public to:

  • Sit on a project steering group,
  • develop or provide feedback on research materials,
  • co-design recruitment materials
  • set research priorities
  • become a co-applicant
  • become a co-researcher – interviewing participants or analysing data

Useful resources explaining how to plan and support PPI activities can be found on the INVOLVE website.

For information on our approach to PPI please see Research Network.