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A guide to involving the public in communicating your research

Researchers from a flagship NIHR-funded study helping parents understand survival data about children's heart surgery have launched a new best practice guide for involving patients and the public in communicating research outcomes

The study team developed the Understanding Children’s Heart Surgery Outcomes website, with the support of independent campaign charity Sense about Science, to better inform people how the NHS monitors children’s heart surgery. The study built on the work previously funded by the NIHR to develop a model to estimate the risk of death for children undergoing surgery – taking into account each child’s heart condition, the type of operation, their age, weight and whether they had other health problems.

Patients and the public were invited to workshops to help co-develop the website’s content, layout and data presentation to ensure they could best understand a complex and sensitive topic. Now Sense about Science and the researchers have launched 'Public Engagement: a Practical Guide' to help other researchers involve the public in communicating findings from the earliest stages of their projects and on the most challenging of subjects. The document – which was funded as part of the study – features a five-step guide used by the team on their project with advice ranging from initial scoping of the subject to planning and user-testing materials to present findings in a clear and accessible way.

The new resource aims to provide valuable support to help researchers planning their next grant proposals and projects think ahead about how their work could have an impact. Click here to access the Sense about Science website and download the resource.

The Department of Health (NI), through HSC R&D Division, provides an R&D funding commitment in the form of an annual contribution to NIHR. As well as helping to fund important research for the NHS, this significant investment also enables Northern Ireland-based researchers to lead on applications for NIHR research opportunities alongside their colleagues from the United Kingdom (UK). Click here to see a list of eligible NIHR research programmes. HSC R&D Division is aligned with NIHR’s vision to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and this involves increasing opportunities for patients and the public to participate in and benefit from research.

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