Background The National Health Institute constitution enshrines the central role of patient and public involvement (PPI) in order to place patients at the heart of the NHS. The sexual health field presents unique challenges for PPI in the tension between current PPI practice versus the need for confidentiality/feelings of shame/stigma. However, there is little evidence around the goals, evaluation measures or theoretical underpinnings of PPI.
Objectives In order to improve current PPI practice in the sexual health field, audits were carried out on PPI plans in both service and research sectors.
Methods 18 local sexual health service contacts completed the audit through snowballing. The tool was refined and five research projects completed the audit from the Health Protection Research Unit in BloodBorne and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Responses were collated and a thematic analysis by two independent researchers carried out. Common areas for improvement were identified.
Results Audit tool responses evidenced wide variability in practice. Issues included conflation of PPI work and qualitative research; limited ‘patient satisfaction’ approaches; lack of PPI goals; methodological reliance on ‘visible’ methods such as focus groups; lack of responsiveness around patient needs and poor resourcing of PPI work. Research specific issues included ‘late’ PPI after key decisions had been made and poor lay summary validity.
Discussion Two audits evidenced a range of areas for improvement of PPI practice in sexual health. Clear definition of ‘what PPI is for’ aligned with evaluation measures would begin to build an evidence base for the contribution of patient voice.
- service delivery
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Contributors The work was carried out by JM and DG on behalf of the SHIPP/HIT (http://www.bristolhealthpartners.org.uk/health-integration-teams/sexual-health-improvement-hit/) and the NIHR HPRU.
Funding The work was funded by the SHIPP/HIT and the NIHR/HPRU.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Ethics approval University of the West of England, Faculty Research and Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Collaborators The National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Blood Borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections at UCL in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) and in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
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