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Public Involvement Standards


UK Standards for Public Involvement – Better public involvement for better health and social care research

A set of UK Standards designed to improve the quality and consistency of public involvement in research were launched on Monday 18th November at Malone House, Belfast, to coincide with Involve Fest, a regional festival which aimed to celebrate involvement of people in health and social care in Northern Ireland.  The week-long festival comprised of events such as interactive involvement initiatives, music and art exhibitions, engagement events, family days, student learning and a major conference organised by the Public Health Agency.

Martin Quinn, Regional Involvement lead with the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland stated that; “we built on ‘pathfinder’ versions of Involvement Standards in other areas including our own here in Northern Ireland. The collaboration and partnership working demonstrated during the development of those Involvement Standards for Research were amongst the best I have participated in.”

The six UK Standards for Public Involvement provide clear, concise statements of effective public involvement against which improvement can be assessed. They encourage approaches and behaviours that are the hallmark of good public involvement such as flexibility, sharing and learning and respect for each other.

The standards are a description of what good public involvement looks like and are designed to encourage self-reflection and learning. They are not designed as rules, or to provide fixed ideas about public involvement - they can be used with any method or approach to involvement in research

The standards have been developed over the last three years by a UK-wide partnership, which brings together members of the public with representatives from the National Institute for Health Research (England), the Chief Scientist Office (Scotland), Health and Care Research Wales and the Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), working with an independent expert.

Bob McAlister, public member of the Standards Development Partnership said:

I have been involved with the development of the Standards since the very first 2016 London meeting of all Partners. Fortunately, I have had the capacity to stay with the development throughout all the phases. It has been really rewarding, as the public members are a fully equal part of the team effort. I can attribute things that I said to the final product. If the Standards encourage other research work to go forward in this inclusive way, they will fully serve their purpose

More than 40 organisations, groups and individuals across the UK used the Standards during a year-long piloting phase – and were overwhelmingly positive about their experience of implementing them. The pilots used the standards in different ways, including as a framework to support reflective practice and future plans for public involvement activities. When asked to rate how the standards had influenced their own, or their organisation’s practice, most of the 40 pilots said they had either improved, started to improve or created the ambition to improve. 

The Northern Ireland Cerebral Palsy Register (NICPR) team at Queen’s University Belfast piloted the Standards and have enhanced the level of public involvement in their research; providing access to training for public involvement group members, improving communication and dissemination of information and embedding public involvement across the research life cycle. 

Helen Savage, NICPR public representative on the Standards project, commented that public involvement “can contribute to high quality research to improve the lives of people with cerebral palsy, now, and in the future.”

The standards have been embraced by research and public involvement networks and organisations and align with international quality standards such as the Patient Focused Medicines Development (PFMD) Patient Engagement Quality Guidance.

The partnership invites people to use the UK standards in all types of research activity, so that more research benefits from valuable public insight. For more information, please visit the Standards website.

To download the standards click on the relevant link below:

UK Standards for Public Involvement

UK Standards for Public Involvement Summary

Uk Standards for Public Involvement Easy Read


Notes to editors

For further information about the full UK standards and supporting materials, please visit the Public Involvement Standards website.

Public Health Agency       

The PHA was established in 2009 under a major reform of health structures in Northern Ireland.

They are a multi-disciplinary, multi-professional body with a strong regional and local presence. We have four key functions:

·        health and social wellbeing improvement;

·        health protection;

·        public health support to commissioning and policy development;

·        HSC research and development.

They were set up to provide a renewed and enhanced focus on public health and wellbeing by bringing together a wide range of public health functions under one organisation.

They are also required to create better inter-sectoral working, including enhanced partnership arrangements with local government, to tackle the underlying causes of poor health and reduce health inequalities.

Our purpose
Protect and improve the health and social wellbeing of our population and reduce health inequalities through strong partnerships with individuals, communities and other key public, private and voluntary organisations.

Our vision
All people and communities are enabled and supported in achieving their full health and wellbeing potential, and inequalities in health are reduced.

Our values
- We put individuals and communities at the heart of everything we do in improving their health and social wellbeing and reducing health inequalities.
- We act with openness and honesty and treat all with dignity, respect and compassion as we conduct our business.
- We work in partnership with individuals, communities and other public, private, community and voluntary organisations to improve the quality of life of those we serve.
- We listen to and involve individuals and communities.
- We value, develop and empower our staff and strive for excellence and innovation.
- We are evidence-led and outcomes-focussed.

HSC R&D Division

HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency administers the Departmental budget for Health and Social Care Research in Northern Ireland to support high quality research for the benefit of the whole population.

For more information please visit

Chief Scientist Office

The Chief Scientist Office is part of the Scottish Government Health Directorates. Our vision is to support and increase the level of high-quality health research conducted in Scotland.

For more information please contact CSO via the website

Health and Care Research Wales

Health and Care Research Wales is funded by Welsh Government to support and increase capacity in research and development. By:

●      providing an infrastructure to support and increase capacity in research and development

●      running a range of responsive funding schemes

●      managing the NHS R&D funding allocation

For more information, please contact Health and Care Research Wales via the website:  email: or tel: 02920 230457


The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

Queen’s University Belfast

Queen’s University Belfast is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities. Queen’s is ranked 173 in the world (QS World University Rankings 2020) and is a UK top ten research-intensive university (REF 2014/ Times Higher Education). Founded by Queen Victoria in 1845, as one of three Queen’s Colleges in Ireland, it became an independent university in its own right in 1908 and, today, combines its international academic reputation with its standing as a leader in innovation and education. The University has won six Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Further and Higher Education, five Times Higher Education Awards, and is currently the leading institution in the UK for the commercialisation of its intellectual property and for knowledge transfer partnerships. Four Global Research Institutes are the University’s flagships for interdisciplinary research in areas of major societal challenge, including inclusive secure and enriched societies, technology futures and a healthy global population.