Focus on Public and Patient Involvement at NUI Galway

From left, Edel Murphy, programme manager PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway; Dr Michelle Queally, College of Business, Public Policy and Law; Dr Ruth McMenamin, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; Dr Oonagh Meade, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies; Dr Martin O’Halloran, College of Science and Engineering; and Professor Sean Dinneen, Director, PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.
May 28 2019 Posted: 10:36 IST

Promoting capacity building for high quality Patient and Public Involvement in health research

The Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) Ignite Programme at NUI Galway has launched a PPI Catalysts initiative, a leadership group of researchers spread across the University who have a commitment to advance the teaching and practice of meaningful public and patient involvement in research.

NUI Galway was one of five universities in 2017 awarded funding under the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council’s €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.

Professor Sean Dinneen, Director of the HRB-funded PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway programme, said: “The PPI Ignite Programme aims to bring about a culture change in how healthcare research is conducted and our PPI catalysts are already making a difference, promoting PPI in their own networks and contributing to deliver PPI training to researchers across the University. They are setting a standard on meaningful involvement and their enthusiasm for PPI and their expertise will inspire others to follow suit. We are looking forward to working with these Catalysts in the years ahead and plan to expand the Catalysts network further to include Catalysts in the local community also.”

The four PPI Catalysts announced were: Dr Ruth McMenamin, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; Dr Martin O’Halloran, College of Science and Engineering; Dr Oonagh Meade, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies; and Dr Michelle Queally from the College of Business, Public Policy and Law.

Research conducted by Dr Ruth McMenamin from the Discipline of Speech and Language Therapy, is in partnership with people who live with aphasia, a language disorder experienced by up to one-third of the stroke population. Dr McMenamin’s PPI work focuses on including this marginalized group as co-researchers, to ensure that research on aphasia is strongly guided by the people with aphasia themselves. “PPI in research means working with public and patients in all stages of the research process. By doing involvement work researchers move away from thinking about ‘my research’ towards thinking about ‘our research’ and this leads to transformative experiences for all involved in the research process” said Dr McMenamin.

Dr Martin O’Halloran, Head of the Translational Medical Device Laboratory at NUI Galway, leads the development of medical devices that have a tangible impact on patient care and support Ireland’s indigenous medtech industry, he commented: “The key opinion leader in device development has traditionally been the doctor. The patient voice is now becoming more important. PPI gives us an insight into the patient perspective on what devices are needed and what problems devices should focus on solving. PPI shapes our projects and helps us to understand the needs of patients and the urgency to develop a solution for a patient population.” 

Dr Oonagh Meade, a health psychologist at NUI Galway, with extensive experience of involving mental health service users as research partners, is shaping a research study exploring the experiences of those living with long term health conditions and Dr Michelle Queally is a health economist who works to bring the voice of the public and patient to influence her research in a variety of areas, including childhood obesity and clinical trials.

Professor Dinneen added: “More and more members of the public and patients are working with research teams to help influence what health research should be undertaken, how research should be designed and conducted, and how research results should be used to bring about change. Patients are experts in the condition they live with; so hearing from patients about the experience of living with a particular condition provides researchers with real insight into that condition. The increasing number of partnerships between members of the public/patients and researchers being established, ensure that research is guided by the voice of the public and the patient.”


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