Development and formative evaluation of patient research partner involvement in a multi-disciplinary European translational research project.
Birch R., Simons G., Wähämaa H., McGrath CM., Johansson EC., Skingle D., Bayliss K., Starling B., Gerlag DM., Buckley CD., Stack RJ., Raza K., Falahee M.
Plain English summary: Patient and public involvement (PPI) improves the quality of health research and ensures that research is relevant to patients' needs. Though PPI is increasingly evident in clinical and health services research, there are few examples in the research literature of effective PPI in translational and laboratory-based research. In this paper, we describe the development and evaluation of PPI in a multi-centre European project (EuroTEAM - Towards Early biomarkers in Arthritis Management) that included both translational and laboratory-based and psychosocial research. We found that although most PPI in EuroTEAM was centred around the psychosocial research, there were examples of PPI in the laboratory studies. As the project evolved, researchers became better at accommodating PPI and identifying PPI opportunities. It was generally agreed that PPI had a positive impact on the project overall, particularly on public engagement with the research. We concluded that the inclusion of both psychosocial and laboratory-based research in the same project facilitated PPI across all aspects of the research. In future projects, we would try to specify individual PPI activities in more detail at the project-planning stage, and better accommodate patient partners who are not native speakers of English. Abstract: Background Patient and public involvement (PPI) enhances research quality and relevance and is central to contemporary health policy. The value of PPI has been recognised in rheumatology research, though there are limited examples of PPI in basic and translational science. The EU FP7 funded 'EuroTEAM' (Towards Early biomarkers in Arthritis Management) project was established to develop biomarker-based approaches to predict the future development of rheumatoid arthritis and incorporated psychosocial research to investigate the perceptions of 'at risk' individuals about predictive testing, and to develop informational resources about rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk. Patient involvement was central to EuroTEAM from the inception of the project. The objective of this paper is to describe the development of PPI in EuroTEAM, formatively assess the impact of PPI from the perspectives of researchers and patient research partners (PRPs), reflect on successes and lessons learned, and formulate recommendations to guide future projects.Methods Two mixed-methods surveys (for PRPs and researchers) and a teleconference were undertaken to assess the impact of PPI on individual work packages and on EuroTEAM overall.Results There was consensus about the positive impact of PPI on the research and on the experiences of those involved. In particular, the positive impact of PPI on the personal development of researchers, and on effective public engagement with EuroTEAM research were highlighted. Researchers described adapting their practice in future projects to facilitate PPI. Spin-off projects and ongoing collaborations between PRPs and researchers reflected the value of PPI to participants. PPI was more frequently integrated in psychosocial research, though examples of PPI in laboratory/translational science were also described. PRPs asked for more opportunities to contribute meaningfully to basic scientific research and for more extensive feedback on their contributions.Conclusions The findings were used to formulate recommendations to guide effective involvement of patients in future similar projects, including identifying specific training requirements for PRPs and researchers, the identification of PRP focused tasks/deliverables at the project planning stage, and supporting access to involvement for all PRPs. Importantly, the distinctive multidisciplinary approach of EuroTEAM, incorporating both basic science and psychosocial research, facilitated patient involvement in the project overall.