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Finding and Engaging Patients and the Public to Work Collaboratively on an Acute Infection Microbiology Research Public Panel
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Abstract: In 2015 the microbiology research team became involved in a large European programme of research aiming to bring new antimicrobial drugs onto the market to combat the increasing problem of multi-drug resistant infection.

With the purpose of developing patient and public involvement (PPI) in this project, the team decided to recruit a PPI panel to work with. The microbiology team had previously worked with a PPI panel on other research, but had found it difficult to recruit members.

Methods: Steps taken to recruit the panel were as follows:

  • Advice was sought from people experienced in co-ordinating public involvement in research.
  • One person in the team had overall responsibility but the whole research team was committed and met regularly.
  • Two of the team undertook training in group facilitation and connecting with the public.
  • Decisions were made about the criteria for inclusion into the panel, what tasks we envisaged for the panel, the length of and frequency of meetings.
  • Advertising the involvement opportunity through flyers, social media, emails and direct contact with possible panel recruits known to the research team.
  • Relevant documents such as a Role Profile and expression of interest form were drafted.
  • An initial public meeting was planned for all who had shown interest in the panel.
  • The expression of interest form was used for us to select as broad a group as possible.

Results: Two out of three people who were approached directly and known by team members expressed interest in joining the panel (66%). Three out of seven members of a former panel were next (43%), then 10 out of 25 spinal infection clinic patients (40%), and finally 12 people responded to an email sent to 1261 foundation trust members (1%). No-one who was approached by indirect methods e.g. flyers or advertising on Facebook, expressed interest in the panel. Sixteen people were eventually selected for the panel.

Conclusions: It is possible to recruit a patient and public involvement panel for research in a discipline as challenging as microbiology. Good planning and the commitment of the research team were key to success.