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Expertise on public involvement in research shared by honorary professor

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Ways to include the public in health service research have been outlined by a University of Stirling honorary professor.

In an event hosted by the Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research, Professor Bernie Pauly, an Associate Professor in Nursing and Scientist at the University of Victoria and Canadian Institutes for Substance Use Research in Canada, shared insights from a Canadian research project which involved people who use, or have used, substances as community researchers.

Dr Bernie Pauly

Dr Bernie Pauly.

“There’s a big move towards patient-orientated research in Canada which involves members of the public in identifying research questions and then throughout the process of research,” she said.

“However, we’re still developing the knowledge about how to do it well.”

She said this approach, which is being promoted in the UK through initiatives such as INVOLVE, is critical to enhancing person-centred care.

Professor Pauly is working as part of the research team at the University of Stirling looking at the feasibility of using ‘peer navigators’ to provide services and ‘community researchers’ as part of the research process.

“It’s innovative to have peers or people with lived experience providing services and support to people with drug and alcohol problems,” she said.

“Also, peers or community researchers bring really important knowledge to the research process which is different from academic knowledge. It’s how you blend these together that’s important.

“We need to make a difference to people who are experiencing challenges with drugs and alcohol. We need to impact positively on their lives. Peer navigation is an important innovation that builds on practical knowledge and experience of peer-to-peer support.”

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