Why do we work with patients and the public?

Patient and public involvement in health research has been recognised by Higher Education Institutions, Research Organisations and the Government (NHS) as having valuable impact on research outcomes, clinical trials and precision treatments.

There are many terms associated with the inclusion of patients and the public in health research, and it is important to understand the difference between them. Predominantly, you will see the terms Involvement, Engagement and Participation. Cancer Research UK defines these terms as follows:

Involvement, engagement and participation


Involvement is when patients use their experience of cancer to help shape research. You can consult, collaborate or partner with patients. Involvement can add value at all stages of the research cycle.


Engagement is where information and knowledge about research are shared with the public.


Participation is where patients or healthy volunteers take part in research as the subject of the study. This is where research is being done to them, not with them.

Our PPI Champion, Kelly Gleason (CRUK Senior Research Nurse), has been working closely with CRUK Imperial Centre researchers to bridge the gap between patient and public participation in cancer research and patient and public involvement with cancer research at Imperial for over a decade.

Kelly GleasonThrough Kelly’s award-winning work with the CRUK Imperial Centre PPI Group, our researchers, nurses, patients and staff collectively advocate for a culture of involvement with patients and the public at Imperial. We champion patient-led projects and activities through the:

 - CRUK Imperial Centre PPI Group
 - Imperial Science Cafes
 - Public engagement (we are actively involved in Lab tours, Research open days, Public talks and lectures and the annual Imperial Festival).

If you would like further information on how to get involved with PPI as a researcher, patient or member of the public, please contact Kelly (k.gleason@imperial.ac.uk).

Are you a researcher at Imperial, a patient or member of the public? Are you thinking about getting involved in PPI? See what advice our patients and researchers have to offer in the following videos