Our Public Advisory Group
The REACT Public Advisory Group (PAG) was formed in May 2020 by Imperial’s Patient Experience Research Centre (PERC) to embed public and participant voices into the design and development of the REACT testing programme. A range of paths brought the members together – some were existing public partners in the School of Public Health, some were participants in the early user testing of antibody kits as a REACT-2 pilot for before national roll out, and some had simply seen the COVID-19 community involvement activity run by PERC and wanted to get involved.
Meet the public advisors who've been involved in shaping the REACT testing programme from the start.
Amara Lalji, West London
"I wanted to be involved because I wanted to share my opinion about COVID-19....(click to read more)"
Joan Bedlington, County Durham
"Whilst shielding at the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to try to help in the fight against COVID-19...(click to read more)
Maisie McKenzie, London
"Maisie's experiences as a carer for multiple family members with serious medical conditions led to an interest in public involvement...(read more)"
Marney Williams, West London
"It has been a privilege, interesting and rewarding to be involved with the REACT study...(click to read more)
Philippa Russell, Kent
“As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded I felt like I wanted to contribute...(click to read more)"
Sandra Jayacodi, North West London
"...lived experiences are pivotal in the design of any research." (click to read more)
Current and past activity
Since the study began, PERC staff have met with the group (via Zoom) at least once a month to share and discuss key study updates, current challenges, upcoming plans and recent findings. Between the virtual catch-ups, every member has played a crucial role in shaping outputs from the study, often with very tight deadlines given the nature of the programme.
Here are just some of the other key contributions the group have made to date:
- Set the direction for the at-home testing programme by joining other members of the public on a Zoom call to talk about antibody testing – see their recommendations in this Insight Report
- Acting as advocates for people from Black, Asian, Minority ethnic groups to ensure their representation in the research and risk to infection and/or ill health was closely monitored - thispaper published in Nature Communications focuses on the role that structural inequalities played during the first wave
- Reviewing testing kit instruction leaflets to ensure they were clear and easy to follow for participants
- Co-authoring a publication and infographic on the acceptability and usability of antibody lateral flow tests
- Providing recommendations for the use of rapid antigen lateral flow tests with the general public
- Providing ongoing strategic direction to research and project team members to ensure public and participant perspectives inform plans at all levels
Wider public involvement and engagement activity
Building a community of public contributors
With over 2 million people having now taken part in REACT, the testing programme offers more than just surveillance, it now also represents an enhanced dataset and cohort of people that can help us better understand the social, environmental, and biological risk factors for COVID-19 and Long COVID, as well as the health and emotional impact experienced by people and society.
Therefore, as the research enters a new phase where more voices and perspectives are needed to help us understand the short and long-term health impacts of COVID-19, our approach to public engagement and involvement has needed to evolve too, which is why we've opened the REACT: COVID-19 Community Network. It's free to join and open to anyone wishing to stay updated and further shape our ongoing COVID-19 and Long COVID research, particularly if you have been affected by COVID-19, experienced ongoing ill health and/or were a participant in the REACT study.