On the 8th June, four members of our Patients and Public Involvement Advisory Group (PPIAG) carried out informal mock interviews with three Clinical Training Fellows.

We organised the interviews to provide our Fellows with an opportunity to discuss the patient and public involvement element of their work and to help them understand the kinds of questions that a lay person may have about their grant applications.

This is the second time that we’ve run these sessions and they’ve worked really well for both sides. The trainees all fedback that this will help to improve their research and the PPIAG members were delighted to see their feedback being used to make real change to the work of the BRC. We are extremely grateful to the PPIAG for providing this service and plan to offer these on a regular basis.

Each candidate was given specific feedback relevant to their application and project but there were many comments that could be applied to all applicants. This included:

  • Breaking up text in a lay summary is extremely helpful and makes it easier for a lay person to follow.
  • Avoid technical words all together where possible. Where these terms are needed, provide an explanation.
  • When discussing occasions where patients or the public have been involved in your work, really spell out what this entailed, (i.e. we spoke to X number of patients, met X carers, surveyed X members of the public etc) what impact that this has had on your work and what you learned from it. Really emphasise the fact that you have made changes as a result of feedback and not just treated “doing PPI” as a tick box exercise.
  • Be clear about the benefits and the impact that your research will have on patients – why is it needed?
  • Ensure that you consider dissemination and any costs attached to this. This includes going back to any patient groups, charities, community groups etc. who helped you at the beginning to update them on your progress. If you do not need to pay for this, explain that you are doing this in a way that doesn’t cost anything – not mentioning it makes it seems like you haven’t considered this.
  • The same applies for room hire – if you have a free venue, mention it.

“I enjoyed the frank, open PPI discussion with researchers in the recent mock interviews. They are important as they provide an opportunity to engage with new, relatively young BRC researchers starting out in their professional clinical careers to understand the importance of PPI. In particular, engaging with patients & the public in developing research proposals for PhDs, fellowship grants & research applications.”Nanik Pursani, PPIAG member

Thomas Tull, one of our Clinical Training Fellow said:‘The PPI interviews have been really helpful for my grant application. One of the most challenging aspects of the grant is writing a lay summary and the panel made a number of very useful suggestions as to how this could be improved. Other suggestions such as incorporating PPI into grant costings and how to objectively evidence PPI statements were also really useful and significantly improved my grant application.”

Further sessions are planned for January and June 2018.

For more information on mock interviews please get in touch:

Claire O’Neill, Patient and Public Involvement Project Manager claire.oneill@gstt.nhs.uk 0207 188 7188 extension 53524. Further information on the PPIAG can be found here