Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)

Patient and Public Involvement at the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

University Commitment

The University of Aberdeen is equally committed to supporting and encouraging researchers to involve members of the public in research activities, as well as providing opportunities for members of the public to connect with and engage in our research.

What is Patient and Public Involvement in Research?

Patient and Public Involvement (also called PPI) is the term we use to describe working with members of the public and patients who will contribute to how research is designed, conducted and disseminated. It ensures that research stays accessible and relevant to public needs.

For all Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) enquiries please contact Diane McCosh

PPI Resources for Researchers

PPI in Research

What is Patient and Public Involvement in research?

We operate from the INVOLVE definition of patient and public involvement, research that is done ‘with’ or ‘by’ the public, not 'to', 'about' or 'for' them. It means that patients or other people with relevant experience contribute to how research is designed, conducted and disseminated.

Patient and public involvement in research differs from public engagement with research, in which researchers share and discuss their research with different audiences through forums like public events, festivals and social media or targeted community activities.

It is also different to research participation, in which researchers recruit and consent people to take part in research study activities, for example by completing a survey, providing clinical samples or taking part in an intervention trial. Unlike research participation, ethical approval is not needed for the majority of public involvement activities.

Why is Patient and Public Involvement in research so important?

We have long recognised that collaborating with patients, carers, community and charity organisations and individuals with relevant experience positively impacts on all stages of research. Our goal is to ensure that patient and public involvement in research leads to:

  • Identification of the most relevant research priorities.
  • Better design, management and undertaking of research projects.
  • Improved interpretation of findings within given context.
  • Wider dissemination and sharing of findings to public and key stakeholders.
  • A change to clinical practice or policy by implementation of research findings.
  • Continual evaluation of impact from research.
Getting Started

Where to begin?Flow chart for PPI

Whether you are just beginning to develop an idea for a research project or about to begin data analysis, you can involve members of the public at any point in the Research Cycle. It is never too early or too late to incorporate these activities into your research!

For example, you could:

  • Host a priority setting exercise to determine what are the perceived research needs and gaps for your patient/public population.
  • Develop a grant application with named members of an advisory group to determine design of project, key outcomes, planned activities and timeline.
  • Involve patients or public in ethics and protocol development, participant recruitment and retention, and materials (e.g., leaflets, surveys, consent forms, website/social media material).
  • Work with patients or public on creating the data analysis plan and interpreting findings from perspective of their lived experience.
  • Disseminate and evaluate findings alongside patients or public to both academic and non-academic audiences.

Who can help?

If you have never undertaken PPI activities or if you have but want to further develop your skills, there are a number of resources available to you at the University of Aberdeen within the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition (SMMSN), including:

  • A new SMMSN patient and public research interest group has been established and this group is available to researchers as a resource to help facilitate engagement with PPI. Please contact Diane McCosh if you would like further information.
  • An internal fund is available to University of Aberdeen researchers to support a range of PPI activities. Applications are assessed competitively. More information can be found at the Patient and Public Involvement Fund.
  • Regular training on effective and practical PPI and Public Engagement is provided through the Grants Academy ResearchBite series as well as the Public Engagement Research Unit (PERU).
  • Research and Innovation staff Juliette Snow and Despoina Kaloriti can advise researchers planning and developing grant applications on any funder-specific PPI requirements including eligible costs that can be requested to support PPI activities.
  • A number of SMMSN colleagues have extensive PPI experience and are available for consultation. Please contact Diane McCosh if you would like more information.
  • On occasion external funders launch ad hoc calls focussed on PPI activities; these opportunities are promoted through the Grants Academy and the PERU team can offer hands-on support to help prepare competitive proposals.

*Image of Research Cycle from NIHR - Involve

External Resources & Workshops

A list of helpful external resources

You may find the following useful if you are also interested in conducting Public Engagement activities.

National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement


ResearchBites Patient and Public Involvement Mini Series

This lunchtime mini-series will provide an exciting opportunity to hear from colleagues about their experiences working with patients and the public in research. The series will present an in-depth look into approaches used across the research cycle - from a pre-funded to funded stage. Colleagues, together with research partners, will share valuable lessons learned, as well as honestly speak about the benefits and challenges of undertaking work together. 

Session 5: How PPI can enhance your Research:
Original date postponed, new date t.b.c

This first session with Dr Kathryn Martin and patient partners covers PAINSTORM: How Effective PPI Can Enhance Research Design and Funding Application. Sign up here.


If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Gillian Cooper

For Members of the Public

Thank you for your interest in Patient and Public Involvement activities at the University of Aberdeen.

At this time, all we need is your full name and email address. You can enter these in the form below.
We will use these details to share more information with you and to invite you to Patient and Public Involvement events at the University in the future.
If you have more questions or would like more information, please email or contact Dr Kathryn Martin 01224 437117