Researching the implementation and evaluation of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in CLAHRC East of England research

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 PPI 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 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?

Dr. Julia Keenan talking about the IMPRESS project, its rationale, aims and methods:

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.

With two action research cycle planned, each 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 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 to carry out a second cycle of action research to see how the refined PPI action plan works in detail.


  • CLAHRC South London, Active Involvement in Research Day, Julia Keenan and PPI co-researchers: Penny Vicary and Amander Wellings. ‘Public Involvement in the IMPRESS Study’, (April 2016)
  • HSRUK conference, Nottingham Conference Centre Birmingham.
    • Poster: ‘Implementing patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in an NHS research programme, Study findings: 10 Action Points’
    • Presentation Title: ‘We are family’: embedding patient and public involvement (PPI) in a collaborative research programme: lessons from the IMPRESS study’. (July 2016).
  • UCL Qualitative Health Research Symposium 2017: Engagement, Co-production, and Collaborative Meaning-Making: Collaboration in Qualitative Health Research: Keenan, J., Poland, F., Wilson, P., et al. Poster: ‘Research design boundaries for qualitative research, stakeholder and patient and public involvement, and why they matter’ (Feb 2017).
  • INVOLVE at 21 National Conference, London: Julia Keenan, Fiona Poland, Amander Wellings and Penny Vicary. Poster: "Embedding PPI in a regional research network and beyond: Findings and action points from the IMPRESS project and CLAHRC East of England” (Nov 2017). Finalist.

Keenan, J; Poland, F; Wilson, P; Mathie, E., Boote, J., Varley, A., Wythe, H., Wellings, A., Vicary, P., Cowe, M., Munday, D., Howe, A. (2017) ‘Research design boundaries for qualitative research, stakeholder and patient and public involvement, and why they matter’. Conference poster published abstract BMJ Open (7)

Professor Fiona Poland talking about the project's key findings:


Mary Ledgard talking about the patient and public involvement on the IMPRESS study:

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 Prof Fiona Poland (UEA) and Dr Jonathan Boote (UoH).

The Co-Investigators are Prof 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 and Social Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East of England.