NUI Galway Researchers to Focus on Public and Patient Involvement

Sean Dinneen, Professor of Diabetic Medicine, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway. Photo: Aengus McMahon
May 31 2017 Posted: 08:57 IST

Health Research Board and Irish Research Council award funding to NUI Galway that will focus on public and patient involvement in the health research process from the outset

NUI Galway is one of five universities awarded funding under the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council’s new €1.75million ‘PPI Ignite’ initiative, to help researchers involve the public from the very start of the health research process. It is the first award of its kind in Ireland.

NUI Galway will receive €350,000 to actively develop capacity in Public and Patient Involvement (PPI). The initiative will be led by Principal Investigator, Sean Dinneen, Professor of Diabetic Medicine from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway.

To help researchers tackle the Public and Patient Involvement challenge, the Health Research Board teamed up with the Irish Research Council to launch the PPI Ignite Awards. This funding scheme is designed to help institutions create the right environment, training, support and processes to help researchers involve the public and patients in planning and designing research studies, and in communicating study results in a non-technical language.

“No one has more to gain from health research than patients who are already using health services, or the public who are all potential users. It makes sense to involve the public and patients at the outset to ensure that their life experience informs the approach taken when designing a research proposal”, explains Dr Máiread O Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the Health Research Board.

“This funding is part of a wider Public and Patient  Involvement strategy at the HRB, which recently saw members of the public invited to review research proposals as part of a pilot project”, said Dr O Driscoll. “We got a strong response among people from all walks of life to review research proposals from a public perspective. We now need to marry these two initiatives to ensure researchers are equipped to adopt the public feedback into their proposals and help them understand the ways they could engage the public before they put pen-to-paper to write a proposal.”

NUI Galway has many researchers who are already involving patients and members of the public in their work, including researchers in Speech and Language Therapy, General Practice, Disability Law and Dementia and Diabetes. Professor Dinneen’s research is aimed at improving outcomes for young adults living with type 1 diabetes in Ireland. The study team based in University Hospital Galway and NUI Galway includes a panel of young adults living with type 1 diabetes who act as co-researchers in developing a new approach to diabetes care called D1 Now.

Commenting on the award, Professor Sean Dinneen from NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to receive this PPI Ignite Award from the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council. We will use the funding to establish a PPI Ignite team in NUI Galway. The team will be based in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society and will provide support and training to members of the public and researchers, to enable them to embrace PPI methods in their work and thereby improve the quality and impact of the health research undertaken in our institution.”

Commenting on the announcement, Peter Brown, Interim Director of the Irish Research Council said: “The Irish Research Council strongly promotes engagement as part of the research process and we are delighted to join with the HRB and co-fund this innovative initiative. Involving patients and the public in the research process will boost health research and its capacity to generate new solutions, processes and services to address the grand challenge that is health and well-being. Engaged research, such as reflected in PPI Ignite, truly is a win-win for all stakeholders.”

The overarching aim of the PPI Ignite Awards is to support and promote capacity building for high quality Patient and Public Involvement in health research.


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