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Combining PPI with qualitative research to engage ‘harder-to-reach’ populations: service user groups as co-applicants on a platform study for a trial

Citation
Morgan H, Thomson G, Crossland N, Dykes F & Hoddinott P (2016) Combining PPI with qualitative research to engage ‘harder-to-reach’ populations: service user groups as co-applicants on a platform study for a trial, Research Involvement and Engagement, 2, Art. No.: 7.

Abstract
Background: Patient and public involvement (PPI) in all research studies is recommended from the earliest point and in as many stages as possible. Qualitative research is also recommended in the early stages of designing complex intervention trials. Combining both together might enable inclusion of ‘harder-to-reach’ perspectives from the target population(s), particularly when the research is intended for their benefit. However, the interface between PPI and qualitative research has received little attention. Methods: In a multi-disciplinary, mixed methods study to inform the design of incentive trials for smoking cessation in pregnancy and breastfeeding, we combined PPI and qualitative research, with some overlap. Mother and baby groups from two geographically separate disadvantaged areas, with diverse experiences of the smoking and breastfeeding, but no training or previous involvement in research, were recruited as PPI research grant co-applicants. An iterative partnership approach facilitated involvement in research conduct and design across all project phases. Group PPI members were also invited to contribute to more formal qualitative data collection, as and when indicated by the research questions, and emerging analysis. Results: We engaged with ‘harder-to-reach’ women in mother and baby group settings, rather than in academic or home environments. These settings were relaxed and informal, which facilitated rapport-building, disclosures of unexpected information and maintained trust. 21 women participated in standard PPI activities: feedback on study protocols and documents; piloting questionnaires and interview schedules. PPI members voiced some different perspectives from those captured within the qualitative dataset. 19 participated in focused qualitative research. Novel aspects were audio recorded PPI discussions, which contributed qualitative data; first, to interpret systematic review findings and construct intervention vignettes for use in the qualitative research; second, to assist with recruitment to improve sample diversity in the formal qualitative dataset; and third, to translate theory and findings presented in a researcher generated logic model into a lay tool. This had face validity for potential trial participants and used the metaphor of a ladder. Conclusions: Combining and overlapping PPI and qualitative research added ‘harder-to-reach’ contributions, sample diversity, trust and engagement in creative approaches beyond what could be achieved through PPI or qualitative research alone.

Keywords
Public involvement; qualitative research; complex interventions; ‘harder-to-reach’ perspectives; feasibility studies; trial design; service user collaboration; participatory methods

StatusPublished
AuthorsMorgan Heather, Thomson Gill, Crossland Nicola, Dykes Fiona, Hoddinott Pat
Publication date24/03/2016
Publication date online24/03/2016
Date accepted by journal12/02/2016
PublisherBioMed Central
ISSN 2056-7529
LanguageEnglish

Journal
Research Involvement and Engagement: Volume 2

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