Black and minority ethnic involvement in health research: Veena Parmar

20 Jun

Veena Parmar_photo_June 17

Veena Parmar has been providing a patient/public perspective for NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC student Shoba Dawson’s PhD project about barriers to involvement in research among BME (black and minority ethnic) groups.  In this article she chats to Jill Stocks (Research Fellow, Core theme) about her experience.

Jill: Hi Veena, tell me a little about your background.

Veena: I am a second generation Indian born in Nairobi and educated in the British colonial system. My family is a blend of Anglo Indian Portuguese culture. It’s great when we have family gatherings to exchange our various views. The Portuguese family go on about Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus, Cork, port wine and the spice trade while we Anglo Indians brag about the industrial revolution, trains, the cotton and motor industry, and so on. Since being married I have lived in and around Manchester.

Jill: Before becoming involved with the Greater Manchester PSTRC what did you know about Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in research?

Veena: I had only heard about people who were participating in clinical trials, I had some friends who were part of a rheumatism trial.

Jill: What made you decide to become involved in PPI?

Veena: At first I was dubious but Shoba really encouraged me to come and meet her and the other PPI partner. At the meeting I found the topic really interesting, we read some case studies and gave our opinions.

Jill: What have you personally got out of the involvement?

Veena: I learnt a lot and found myself reflecting on my own multicultural experience through our discussions. Shoba is a kind person and always very supportive.

Jill: What support or advice were you able to provide?

Veena: I offered advice on how to get BME communities involved in research. I had lots of ideas and suggestions about how to work through community leaders and how to approach women in socially-conservative communities.

Jill: What aspects did you enjoy least or find difficult?

Veena: I was asked to give a presentation and imagined it would be in a theatre with a large audience so I felt unable to do it. In fact it was an informal talk with a small audience so I felt a bit disappointed because I would have felt confident to talk if I had known that.

Jill: What advice would you give to anybody thinking about getting involved as a PPI partner?

Veena: Make sure you understand what you are getting yourself in to and ask questions. Keep an open mind and you will learn a lot.

Jill: Would you do more PPI in future?

Veena: Yes – absolutely.  Although I am about to retire and hope to do some travelling so it would have to be as a short term commitment…

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