Reflections… of a conference

30 Jan

by Jo Beresford, member of the GM PSTRC Core Research User Group (RUG)

Jo Beresford Exeter Conference photo_300x300

I was very worried about the flight down to Exeter on a propeller plane to get to the New Developments in Public Involvement in Research Conference but in the end it was all ok – well, I got there!

Once I was registered and in possession of my conference pack it was straight into a very passionate opening keynote speech by Sir Iain Chalmers on ‘ways in which patients and the public can help to reduce waste in research’.  This set the tone for the rest of the conference, every person I met was very enthusiastic about the importance of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in Health Research, how beneficial it is and how the public and researchers can both learn and develop from each other.

There was even an interactive room where I could explore physical models of mapping PPI in research as well as draw things yourself; I found this a useful space to get a little break from the hustle and bustle of the conference whist having useful and informative conversations with several researchers.

I had a fantastic time at conference and really enjoyed meeting all the new people I did along with all the workshops I attended. These have really increased my understanding of PPI, as my involvement in the RUG is the first time I have had any involvement in PPI at all, so it was a great experience all round. I attended workshops in ‘Exploring the Meaning of Involvement in Applied Health Research in PenCLAHRC’, ‘PPI in Theory and Practice’ and a presentation on ‘Can Individuals with Lived Experience of a Mental Health Condition Contribute to Analysis and What Does Everyone Gain?’ One of the main points that I learnt was that everyone has a contribution to make to research and it is those with direct experience that can often produce the most impact on research-it is important that individuals’ are not “written off” by researchers’ just because they have a particular health condition.

The conference expanded my knowledge and breadth of PPI considerably; I never knew there were so many different ways in which Patients and the Public can be involved in research! One particular example was taking part in a mock decision-making panel for the approval of the drug Liraglutide to see if PPI members would come to the same decision as the professionals. In the workshops I attended patients shared stories about their care and areas of concern where they felt their health was put at risk. This is something that will be particularly useful for working within the GP Theme of the GM PSTRC as it is these issues that we will be interested in when investigating “Never Events”.

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