Reflections and Experiences of a Co-Researcher involved in a Renal Research Study
Da Silva Gane, Maria
Background Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) is seen as a prerequisite for health research. However, current Patient and public involvement literature has noted a paucity of recording of patient and public involvement within research studies. There have been calls for more recordings and reflections, specifically on impact. Renal medicine has also had similar criticisms and any reflections on patient and public involvement has usually been from the viewpoint of the researcher. Roles of patient and public involvement can vary greatly from sitting on an Advisory Group to analysing data. Different PPI roles have been described within studies; one being a co-researcher. However, the role of the co-researcher is largely undefined and appears to vary from study to study. Methods The aims of this paper are to share one first time co-researcher's reflections on the impact of PPI within a mixed methods (non-clinical trial) renal research study. A retrospective, reflective approach was taken using data available to the co-researcher as part of the day-to-day research activity. Electronic correspondence and documents such as meeting notes, minutes, interview thematic analysis and comments on documents were re-examined. The co-researcher led on writing this paper. Results This paper offers a broad definition of the role of the co-researcher. The co-researcher reflects on undertaking and leading on the thematic analysis of interview transcripts, something she had not previously done before. The co-researcher identified a number of key themes; the differences in time and responsibility between being a coresearcher and an Advisory Group member; how the role evolved and involvement activities could match the co-researchers strengths (and the need for flexibility); the need for training and support and lastly, the time commitment. It was also noted that it is preferable that a co-researcher needs to be involved from the very beginning of the grant application. Conclusions The reflections, voices and views of those undertaking PPI has been largely underrepresented in the literature. The role of co-researcher was seen to be rewarding but demanding, requiring a large time commitment. It is hoped that the learning from sharing this experience will encourage others to undertake this role, and encourage researchers to reflect on the needs of those involved.