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Public Involvement Enhancing Research (PIER)

This project has involved the recruitment of a pool of Personal and Public Involvement (PPI) representatives to inform the work of Health and Social Care (HSC) Research and Development (R&D) Division, Public Health Agency, including participation on funding panels. This group is called PIER (Public Involvement Enhancing Research). The aim of the project is to ensure PPI is implemented in HSC R&D Division and by its stakeholders, increasing awareness of the benefits of PPI to researchers and the value of research to the public.

At what level the PPI take place

  • Service development.

PPI helped the project to

  • Improve efficiency of a service;
  • Improve quality;
  • Improve safety;
  • Inform commissioning;
  • Increase ownership;
  • Improve transparency around funding decisions.


The strategic need for and benefits of PPI apply to all levels of HSC R&D Division activity and its associated communities of practice. Integrating PPI into the research process ensures researchers prioritise topics that are important for service users, and formulate questions, processes and outcomes that are patient- led rather than solely researcher-led. Engaging with PPI representatives as partners rather than research subjects has been shown to produce a range of benefits and impacts.

Aim of involvement

To embed PPI into all aspects of HSC R&D Division activity. Specifically, to:
1. Promote public awareness of health and social care research and actively seek the involvement of the public in our activity;
2. Increase awareness among the clinical research community of the benefits of PPI and encourage researchers to engage with users, carers and advocacy groups at the earliest possible stage in the planning and development of their research projects;
3. Make researchers aware of mechanisms and systems for PPI that will provide the scope and capacity to help them to plan, conduct and disseminate research studies that are important and relevant to service users;
4. Facilitate researchers’ access to service users and public input.

Method(s) of Involvement

Formalised involvement on strategic group.


1. Lack of dedicated time;
2. Lack of mechanism for paying PPI Representatives;
3. Recruiting members on an on-going basis;
4. Providing a training programme to support members to maintain involvement.

Outcomes due to involvement

The involvement of PIER in our processes has helped to inform prioritisation exercises, ensured that PPI is central to all our funding schemes and decisions, raised awareness of the benefits of PPI to researchers and the benefits of research to PPI representatives.

Feedback/quotes from service users/carers involved

“Personally, I have found this a very rewarding experience. I have learned many things, not least the impact of financial constraints on the research area, but I also know the clinical knowledge and expertise is there to create a better future and a better quality of life for the citizens of tomorrow, as well as improvements for the patients of today.” Eileen Wright, Co-chair PIER.



Further Information

For further information, contact:
Gail Johnston (Programme Manager)
HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency

Email: Gail.johnston@hscni.net
Tel: 028 9536 3490
Website: http://www.research.hscni.net/pier-ni-public-involvement-enhancing-research