Involving patients and public in
healthcare-associated infection research

7 February 2008 - Regent's College Conference Centre, London


The day was interesting and set out different options for patient representatives to be involved in different research from, reading research proposals or research reports to make comments on them (known as peer review). Peer review is used to check the quality and importance of research proposals and research reports.


People who commission research use peer review to ask people with relevant knowledge or experience to provide written opinions about research proposals to help decide whether the research should be funded. These peer reviewers can include members of the public as well as other researchers and health professionals.


Peer reviewing is also used at other times. Research commissioners often ask people to peer review final reports of projects and journal editors often seek peer review when articles are submitted to them for publication.


As a member of the public you may be asked to comment on the research from your personal perspective or the perspective of members of the public more generally. It will help to make sure that the research is more relevant and acceptable to people who should benefit from the research. You will usually carry out the peer review on your own at home (or work). Or you may prefer to be asked to peer review with other people.


You may be asked to be part of a research commissioning board or panel. These groups are often set up by research commissioners to advise them which research projects they should fund.  There are 10 regional boards and they usually have 2 representatives on them.


The research network meets 3 times a year.  For healthcare associated infections this is the first specific research group, and anyone can be involved.  For the patient representatives taking part in the day it was felt that research on the aftermath of healthcare infections was needed, the physical impact and the emotional impact, including on families and those who may be bereaved needed investigation.  There were strong views on the long-term effects to MRSA sufferers.  It was felt that another area of research was the need to look across all healthcare infections not just bloodstream, investigation into wound, IV lines, catheterisation, why lines and catheters are used routinely etc.  Better use of Route Cause Analysis in identifying causation and putting in preventative measures was needed.


The lack of data in the non-acute sector was another area of interest - and this could inform the work the Healthcare Commission are carrying out on inspecting hospitals - there is so much emphasis on the Acute trusts.  There is little data on the impact poor infection control has in the community.


Research into the use of complaints on HCAIs to inform better infection prevention and control and service design, how many Trusts did this?


Patients and the public can:

-        help select research that is important and relevant

-        help researchers design their projects

-        help develop understandable information sheets for people taking part in research

-        join a research management or advisory group

-        train to carry out some of the research

-        help interpret the results of the research

-        help make sure the research is reported in understandable ways

-        help make sure good research is heard about


We would encourage anyone to register on the INVOLVE website to become involved at

Maria Cann


MRSA Action UK