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summer 2023 - Dr carinne piekema & Dr Hanna Smyth


jpeg version of visual summary document that is downloadable from this page as a PDF.

Visual summary by Carinne Piekema. You can download this summary as a PDF, or contact to request this summary information in an alternative format.  

can you tell us about your PPI event?

This was a series of three workshops, collaborating with people with lived experience from a variety of underrepresented backgrounds. The goal was to identify where WIN’s tools, methods, and processes for research could be more inclusive, and work together to implement improvements based on their suggestions.   


As a direct result, we have been able to make lasting changes to our methods and procedures to help make our research more inclusive, including: 

  • Purchasing long-sleeve scrubs for participants to wear during scans; 

  • Improving communication with participants, e.g. by developing more accessible advert and newsletter templates, and providing information on the rationale for medical screening questions; 

  • Beginning to develop a ‘Community Connector’ programme;  

  • Developing videos and a ‘social story’ accessible PDF about what to expect from an MRI scan at WIN and how to find us; 

  • Adding a new ‘Take Part’ section to the WIN webpage so information for study and PPI participants is easier to find. 


How was your ppi event funded? what was the funding application process/timeline like?

We were awarded £4,743 for this project from the University of Oxford Medical Science Division’s Participatory Research Fund. The funding timeline was tight. We found out about the funding opportunity shortly before the deadline, so the application process was very compressed; then once the funds were awarded (in April), we had to spend it all by the end of July.  


The application was via IRAMS (used for many of the university’s internal funding schemes) and was a standard form asking for a budget breakdown, context and rationale, proposed public collaborators and how to reach them, what differences will be made, and how it will be evaluated.  


Carinne (WIN Public Engagement Manager) was the Principal Investigator (‘PI’) on the application, with Hanna (WIN PE Officer), Jon Campbell (WIN lead radiographer), Sana Suri (PI, Heart and Brain Group) and Heidi Johansen-Berg (WIN Director) as co-Investigators (‘co-Is’).  


how was your ppi event evaluated, and what were some of the main findings?

We sent feedback surveys to the WIN staff and the public contributors involved in the workshops. Highlights: 

  • “I was personally impressed with how the whole team worked so hard to come up with a document which showed all the suggestions given to them were taken seriously.” [public contributor] 

  • “Absolutely [I gained something]. New knowledge as well as new relationships. I feel this team will work well together. Thank you for your professional handling of the meeting.” [public contributor] 

  • “I think we'll make some meaningful changes after this versus just having ambitions before.” [WIN staff] 

  • All respondents had no response for ‘anything [they] didn’t like’, and all respondents said the workshops met or exceeded their expectations (or that they had had no expectations so had nothing to compare against).   

  • All WIN staff respondents ranked their agreement as 4 out of 5 that ‘the proposed changes resulting from the workshops are actionable’ (explaining their lack of ‘5’ response as due to concerns about timescales and potential CUREC challenges for two of the actions respectively).   

  • All public contributor responses ranked their agreement as 5 out of 5 to ‘did you feel that your suggestions were listened to and that you've made a difference through these workshops?’.   


how did you and your research benefit from PPI?

This project aimed to benefit research across WIN by improving communication and scanning practices broadly across the centre, rather than for any one specific research project. Researchers were closely involved in the workshops and the resulting changes, training, and resources developed will be widely disseminated to researchers across WIN from September 2023 onwards.  


what's next for your future ppi plans?

We have an extensive list of ongoing actions from these workshops – not everything suggested by the public contributors was actionable within the six-week timeframe between the first and last workshops. We’ll continue working on some of the longer-term actions (e.g. developing a Community Connectors programme, videos, and training), while also pursuing further funding opportunities to consult with additional public contributors on inclusive research topics and to apply changes we made for MRI to the other technologies we use in WIN. 


In addition, we think other research settings keen on changing their practice to be more inclusive will benefit from what we have learned. We will look to disseminate our finding widely through our networks, including across the Medical Science Division at Oxford, our BRC theme partners and via international conferences.  


what are your top tips for other researchers planning ppi events?

  • If your PPI outcomes will involve WIN core staff, involve them in the process from the beginning.  

  • Build in accountability to your public contributors, ideally by scheduling (and funding) a follow-up meeting or workshop to share progress updates on their suggestions.  

  • Think carefully about what you would like to achieve and plan workshop sessions such that the outcomes fulfil your goals. 

  • Think carefully about what you can and cannot change or do so you can manage expectations to avoid disappointment.