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Public involvement in research about environmental change and health: a case study

Maguire, Kath, Garside, Ruth, Poland, Jo, Fleming, Lora E., Alcock, I, Taylor, Tim, Macintyre, Helen, Lo Iacono, Giovanni, Green, Andrew and Wheeler, Benedict W (2018) Public involvement in research about environmental change and health: a case study Health, 23 (2). pp. 215-233.

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Involving and engaging the public is crucial for effective prioritisation, dissemination and implementation of research about the complex interactions between environments and health. Involvement is also important to funders and policy makers who often see it as vital for building trust and justifying the investment of public money. In public health research, 'the public' can seem an amorphous target for researchers to engage with, and the short-term nature of research projects can be a challenge. Technocratic and pedagogical approaches have frequently met with resistance, so public involvement needs to be seen in the context of a history which includes contested truths, power inequalities and political activism. It is therefore vital for researchers and policy makers, as well as public contributors, to share best practice, and to explore the challenges encountered in public involvement and engagement. This paper presents a theoretically informed case study of the contributions made by the Health and Environment Public Engagement Group (HEPE) to the work of the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Change and Health (HPRU-ECH). We describe how HEPE has provided researchers in the HPRU-ECH with a vehicle to support access to public views on multiple aspects of the research work across three workshops, discussion of ongoing research issues at meetings and supporting dissemination to local government partners, as well as public representation on the HPRU-ECH Advisory Board. We conclude that institutional support for standing public involvement groups can provide conduits for connecting publics with policy makers and academic institutions. This can enable public involvement and engagement which would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in individual short term and unconnected research projects.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Veterinary Medicine
Authors :
Maguire, Kath
Garside, Ruth
Poland, Jo
Fleming, Lora E.
Alcock, I
Taylor, Tim
Macintyre, Helen
Lo Iacono,
Green, Andrew
Wheeler, Benedict W
Date : 2018
Funders : National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
DOI : 10.1177/1363459318809405
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright 2018 SAGE Publications
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 02 Oct 2018 14:54
Last Modified : 06 Mar 2019 09:21

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