The NIHR Research Design Service is closed to new requests from 30 September 2023. We will continue to support our existing clients with existing projects up to 31 March 2024. If you have a question you can email us.
For support with any new project ideas please now contact the NIHR Research Support Service.

Public Involvement

Group discussionThe active involvement of the public is important and expected in the design and conduct of all health and social care research. The term public can refer to patients, potential patients, carers, people who use health and social care services, as well as the general public.

Public involvement brings together academic and professional knowledge with the expertise and understanding that comes from the lived experience of a particular health condition or negotiating and accessing health or social services. This makes sure that research is informed by these different, but equally valuable, perspectives.

NIHR believes that research that is designed and carried out in partnership with the people who are intended to benefit from it, makes the research more likely to deliver better treatments, therapies, and services in real world settings.

Our mission is to promote active and meaningful public involvement in the research we support. We believe that this will  strengthen both the quality and relevance of health and social care research.

Find out more in our Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Strategy and Operational Plan 2019 - 2023.

Working with the public

We are committed to a strong public voice throughout our work. We are supported by a community of around 20 members of the public who contribute to a range of our activities:

  • Providing written reviews of funding applications
  • Joining our monthly project review committee (mock funding committee)
  • Developing and delivering training for new public contributors
  • Working with our public involvement advisers on specific public involvement-related projects
  • Attending regional grant application seminar Q&A panels
  • Sitting on our senior oversight and management teams and working with the public involvement lead to develop and deliver our public involvement strategy

If you would like more information about becoming a public contributor contact Louise Ward on

Payments for public contributors

We pay for public contributors' time and expenses in line with NIHR guidance. If you would like more information about reimbursement please contact Louise Ward on

Information for Researchers

Members of the public can be actively involved in all stages of the research process including:

  • Identifying research priorities and developing research questions
  • Designing and managing studies
  • Collecting, interpreting and analysing data
  • Disseminating and reporting of findings – particularly to public groups
  • Developing impact plans

Our public involvement advisers can support you to:

  • Identify the right people to collaborate with you – in particular, how you might consider equality, diversity, and inclusion in your public involvement
  • Help you consider how you might work with community or currently under-served groups
  • Identify opportunities for involvement to support the development of your funding application including small grants (see below)  
  • Develop a public involvement strategy for your proposed research that enables involvement at all relevant stages
  • Organise public contributor reviews of your research
  • Consider how to involve the public in the governance of your research – including public co-applicants and steering group members
  • Consider and identify an appropriate person for the role of public involvement lead
  • Provide guidance on budgeting for involvement

Support for public involvement

It is considered good practice to involve members of the public as early as possible in the research design process. Funding public involvement at the grant application stage can be challenging. Our ‘Public Involvement Funds’ aim to bridge that gap. Funds are available to help facilitate public involvement in the development of research ideas and research grant applications.

We recommend that you have an initial conversation with our public involvement adviser before applying for funding. Please contact  Louise Ward on

Resources for researchers and public contributors

Co Production, PPI lead and public co-applicants
Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)




PPI in Social Care