Participatory Research Theme

Bringing Wisdom to ResearchThe notion of participative research, in which service users or citizens become partners or co-researchers in the research process is a core characteristic of our approach to social research. Our Participatory Research Theme is cross-cutting across all four of our Research Groups.

A number of academics across the School of Social Policy's Institute of Applied Social Studies and Health Services Management Centre are engaged in collaborative working with service users, carers and members of the public. Read more about the Health Services Management Centre's Patient experience and public involvement programme

The Survivor Arts Project at the University of Birmingham provides a space where survivors' perspectives can be communicated through the arts.

Find out more about Suresearch, which is a network of Service Users in Research and Education.

Some highlights of our participatory research

Hearing the voices of carers with learning disabilities

Carers with learning disabilitiesThe Carers with Learning Disabilities Network was formed after carers with learning disabilities were seen as a priority by the Families Lead in the Valuing People programme. Over the past 12 months a partnership has been formed between ourselves and members of the network, alongside Mencap and The Norah Fry Research Centre in Bristol. Our work has focused on developing collaborative research to explore experiences of people with learning disabilities who are carers. Most recently, with support from the ODI, a consultation exercise was conducted, the findings from which have been submitted as part of the government's 'Fulfilling Potential' consultation. You can read the findings from our consultation 'Fulfilling Potential Consultation: The views of people with learning disabilities who are carers'. If you would like further information about the network or about our research, please contact Nicki Ward,

Older people's experiences of care transitions project

Colleagues across the School of Social Policy have recently completed an SDO-funded project, exploring older service user and carers' experiences of transitions in care. Designed as a participatory study, the research was designed, carried out and analysed in partnership with 23 older people as 'co-researchers'. An evaluation of the participatory approach was undertaken to assess the impact of older people's involvement as research partners on the process and outcomes of the study, and explore the experiences of those taking part. The final report is now available from the NHS NIHR website.

Read HSMC news item 'New report into older people's experiences of transitions in health and social care', which includes video responses to the report.

We have put together a Care transitions resource pack for those involved in co-research projects as a useful starting point.

Bringing wisdom to research

Members of the SDO Care Transitions Project recently held a public workshop - Bringing Wisdom to Research - which explored the opportunities, practicalities and impact of involving older people in research and service evaluation. It was delivered in collaboration with the national organisation INVOLVE and with co-researchers from the care transitions project. The event was attended by health and social care practitioners, voluntary sector organisations academics and representatives of older people's groups in the area.


If you would like further information about the Participatory Research theme, please contact:

Rosemary Littlechild
Tel: +44(0)121 414 5728