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    Creativity in public involvement: supporting authentic collaboration and inclusive research with seldom heard voices

    Broomfield, Katherine, Craig, Claire, Smith, Sarah, Jones, Georgina, Judge, Simon and Sage, Karen ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7365-5177 (2021) Creativity in public involvement: supporting authentic collaboration and inclusive research with seldom heard voices. Research Involvement and Engagement, 7 (17).

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    Abstract

    Background The role of public involvement (PI) in healthcare research is growing in importance and it is imperative that researchers continuously reflect on how to promote the inclusion of patients and service users in the design and delivery of research. PI offers a mechanism for end-users to be involved planning, executing, and reporting research. Some patient groups, including people who have communication difficulties, may struggle to engage in the methods traditionally employed to promote PI engagement such as questionnaires and focus groups. Methods This article describes a longitudinal case-study of a PI group, consisting of people who have communication difficulties, for a patient-reported outcome development project. Creative methods, informed by the participatory design principles of enacting, seeing and doing, were introduced stepwise into seven PI meetings. Data from video and visual minutes were used to evaluate the impact of the methods, following each group. Feedback, in the form of verbal and visual outputs taken directly from group meeting minutes, along with vignettes evidenced the impact of the methods on the project and group members. Results Creative methods enabled the PI group members to successfully contribute in meetings, to interact dynamically and to engage with the aims and processes of the research project. Their involvement facilitated the development of accessible recruitment materials, informed data analysis and supported the dissemination of project outputs. Employing creative methods also enabled both PI group members and the academic team to reflect on their own roles within the research project and the impact that their active involvement in the PI group has had on their personal development and perspectives on research. Conclusion The impact of using creative methods in PI for this patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) development project improved collaboration and understanding between PI members and the academic team. The authentic engagement of people who have communication difficulties in PI generated a more accessible project in terms of both process and impact. Creativity has applicability beyond people whose communication is non-verbal; it should be harnessed by research teams to identify and breakdown barriers to involvement to develop outcome tools that reflect the diversity of our populations.

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