The 7th annual Public & Patient Involvement Summer School took place from Thursday 23rd until Friday 24th June 2022, and was hosted by the University of Limerick. Members of the DEBRA Ireland Research team were delighted to attend.

The University of Limerick Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) Summer School is for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge about public and patient involvement in research. The aim is to come together for learning, discussion, networking and relationship building. There was a great mix of community organisations, patient groups, researchers, students, health service providers and policy makers. The PPI Summer School included a mix of keynote talks and interactive workshops, as well as forums for discussion and reflection.

Day one kicked off with a keynote talk given by Professor Seán Dinneen, NUI Galway, who is the national lead for the PPI Ignite Network. The PPI Ignite Network is a national collaborative initiative putting patients at the centre of decision-making in research. Its university partners are NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, UCC, DCU, UCD, UL and RCSI. It is funded by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council. Professor Seán Dinneen highlighted that the focus of the PPI Ignite Network is to provide increased opportunities for the public, patients and carers to be at the centre of research decision-making, working with researchers to decide what issues are important to prioritise and how best to carry out research. The hope is that Ireland will become a world leader in PPI. Following the keynote, we got to hear about introduction to participatory health research for PPI, take part in arts-based methods in PPI Health Research, or learn about developing a PPI panel. These sessions were delivered by PPI experts, Dr Jon Salsberg, Professor Helen Phelan, Dr Fran Garry, Dr Katie Robinson, Monica Hannaford and Professor Rose Galvin. This led to the workshops held for parallel session two, facilitated by Dr Kim Ozano and Dr Anne Cody.

Image courtesy of University of Limerick

Day two started off on Friday morning with another keynote talk, this time presented by Dr Anne Drabczyk. Dr Anne Drabczyk explored the link between storytelling and relevant policies that represent shared values of stakeholders. This was followed by Lightning Talks designed to raise awareness, generate interest, share an idea or put forward an innovation. The lightning talks involved people with different lived experiences coming forward to discuss the importance of PPI in research. The presenters included Marian O’Mahony, Stacey Grealis, Kevin Quaid and Patricia O’Shea. The Lightning Talks were facilitated by Dr Avril Kennan and enabled the presenters to share their own personal experiences of PPI and the impact it has on research, from a patient or public point of view. Finally, we were treated to more workshops held for parallel session three which led to the conclusion of this annual PPI summer school.

The event really was a great success in highlighting the importance of PPI in research, and we would like to thank PPI Ignite at University of Limerick for organising and hosting this event.