Implementing PPI in an NHS Research Programme

There is increasing evidence that involving patients and the public can improve research in several ways such as: in recruiting people to take part in research, in making research procedures pre ethically sensitive, and in making research more useful to a wider variety of people. However, for PPI to happen, different groups of people need to work together.

The aim of IMPRESS is to find out how Patient and Public Involvement is being used within projects that are part of the CLAHRC East of England research programme.

Key Research Questions

  • What are the different ways that Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) is being used in research?
  • What are the problems, benefits and costs involved in using PPI in research projects?
  • What are the best ways for PPI to be part of research projects?

Research Design and Outputs

We will answer our research questions by exploring and building on the experiences of researchers and PPI members taking part in research projects within a large programme (the CLAHRC East of England). The IMPRESS study will be an 'action research' project and will also use Normalisation Process Theory.

Each action research cycle (two cycles are planned) is made up of several steps; first, will be to find out some facts, then plan a course of action, then take action, then evaluate the action and then begin the process again. The first steps in the first cycle (2014-2016) will be to:

  • Find out what PPI is in each project by emailing a questionnaire to each project's lead researcher.
  • Analyse the results then share them with people who support PPI. Based on what people say are the most relevant issues we will invite 8-10 projects to become 'case study projects.'
  • Explore PPI in each case study project by interviewing researchers and PPI representatives and asking them to keep a record of the costs of using PPI in their projects.
  • Organise Focus Groups to explore some issues in greater depth.
  • Build an Action Plan of how to improve PPI across CLAHRC East of England.

We will apply for more research funding for 2016-2018 to carry out a second cycle of action research to see how the refined PPI Action Plan works in detail.

The Research Team

The IMPRESS study is run by teams from the Universities of East Anglia and Hertfordshire, and also includes two PPI co-researchers.

  • The Principal Investigators are Professor Fiona Poland (UEA) and Dr Jonathon Boote (UoH).
  • The Co-Investigators are Professor Amanda Howe and Dr Lisa Irvine.
  • The researchers are Dr Julia Keenan, Helena Wythe, Julie Bounford and Anna Varley.
  • Our PPI Co-researchers are Amander Wellings and Penny Vicary.


The research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East of England.