A group of medical professionals at the conference table.

Shaping research with patient perspectives

  • Education
  • Research
  • Society

As an institution solely focused on health sciences, RCSI is committed to embedding Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) within both research and education and it forms an integral part of our 2023-2027 Strategy, ‘Innovating for a Healthier Future’.

In research, PPI ensures that the voices of those most affected by healthcare issues directly shape research processes and outcomes, enhancing the relevance, quality and impact of the findings.  

With PPI so prominent in our strategy, RCSI’s recognises the critical importance of growing involvement and engagement with patients for research, teaching, and societal benefit. 

Creating collaborative spaces for researchers, academics, PPI contributors, patient organisations, funding agencies and other key stakeholders to come together is an important part of how we can nurture and grow public and patient involvement in research. A recent PPI in Research Knowledge Exchange event at RCSI saw 85 attendees share their diverse experiences and practices, a dynamic exchange of ideas that embodies our patient-centred approach to health research. 

Discussions highlighted how PPI has informed research agendas, influenced policy, and helped tailor interventions to better meet patient needs. A poster session also showcased some of the innovative PPI initiatives being led by researchers and PPI contributors at RCSI including psychological first aid training for families of first responders, PPI in lab-based spinal cord research and Sjögren’s awareness projects. Many speakers, including senior researchers. PPI contributors, and students reflected on the personal and professional growth experienced through being involved in PPI/researcher partnerships. 

Events like these are crucial for building capacity for PPI and catalysing culture change in health research. The event was closed by Dr Avril Kennan, CEO of Health Research Charities Ireland (HRCI) who reflected on the event’s alignment with our strategy and future goals.

The RCSI strategy has been thoughtfully crafted to set the tone and the agenda for the organisation in the years ahead,” she said. “What shines out from it is the strong focus on engaging and involving patients, service users and the wider public to accomplish its aims. It's evident that the strategy wasn't formulated solely to communicate with stakeholders, but rather involved direct input from patients and the public in shaping its vision. Today is an embodiment of putting that strategy into action.”

The future of PPI at RCSI   

Looking ahead we intend to grow our PPI activity. The aim is not only to broaden the scope of projects involving public and patient contributors but also to deepen the engagement and involvement levels to ensure these perspectives are embedded from the outset of research activities. This will ensure our research outcomes are culturally and socially relevant and responsive to the needs of the community around us. 

RCSI is a lead university in the PPI Ignite Network, a collaboration between seven Irish universities and a total of over 60 partner organisations, including patient organisations, working at both national and local levels. It is funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Irish Research Council (IRC), with co-funding from each of the lead universities, and is coordinated by the University of Galway. Through the network, RCSI is building its internal PPI capacity, advancing innovative new PPI programmes both locally and across the network and developing relationships with key international collaborators. 

For more information, including details on upcoming events, please visit the PPI Ignite Network website. A highlight video of the PPI Knowledge Exchange event can be watched below.

Watch the video

RCSI is committed to achieving a better and more sustainable future through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.