Power to the people: To what extent has public involvement in applied health research achieved this?

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Public involvement in applied health research is a pre-requisite for funding from many funding bodies. In particular the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) in the UK, clearly states that it values lay knowledge and there is an expectation that members of the public will participate as research partners in research. As a result a large public involvement infrastructure has emerged to facilitate this. However, there is concern that despite the flurry of activity in promoting public involvement, lay knowledge is marginalised and has limited impact on research decision-making. This article asks to what extent has power shifted from the scientific research community to the public? It discusses the meaning of power and models of public involvement and examines the development of public involvement in applied health research. It identifies public involvement in a range of decision-making: identifying priority areas for commissioning research; making decisions about which projects are funded; decisions about details of research design. Whilst there is evidence that the public voice is present in the composition of research proposals submitted to NIHR and in the decision-making about which projects are funded and how they are carried out, there is less evidence of a change in the power dynamic manifest in social relations between the scientific research community and the public. As a result the biomedical model remains dominant and largely unchallenged in research decision-making.




Green, G. (2016, August 17). Power to the people: To what extent has public involvement in applied health research achieved this? Research Involvement and Engagement. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40900-016-0042-y

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