Impact and evaluation

How do we define the impact of public involvement in research? How can we monitor it, evaluate it and learn from it?

How to define the impact of public involvement in research?

What do we mean when we speak about the impact of public involvement in research? There is no single, universally accepted definition. At NIHR, we would define impact as the changes, benefits and learning gained from the insights and experiences of patients, carers and the public when working in partnership with researchers and others involved in NIHR initiatives (see Improving how we work with patients, carers and the public).

Why monitor and evaluate public involvement?

We know that there are multiple benefits of patient and public involvement in research. But to learn from it, to understand what works and what doesn’t, we need to capture the difference that public involvement makes to research. This could mean learning from the outcomes of the involvement as well as learning from the process itself.

Building a strong evidence base of public involvement impact will also mean it is no longer an optional ‘add-on’ but an integral part of research.

How can we evaluate public involvement?

How do we know that public involvement is successful, and how do we evidence it? There has been a lot of interest in demonstrating its added value. Various tools have also been developed to evaluate patient and public involvement in research by helping track public contributions and the difference they make.

Browse the resources in this section to see which approach fits your project best!

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