Objective: To investigate health researchers' attitudes to involving the public in research.
Background: Public involvement in research is encouraged by the Department of Health in the UK. Despite this, the number of health researchers actively involving the public in research appears to be limited. There is little research specifically addressing the attitudes of health researchers towards involving the public: how they interpret the policy, what motivates and de-motivates them and what their experiences have been to date.
Design: A qualitative research design, using semi-structured telephone interviews.
Setting and participants: Fifteen purposively sampled UK-based University health researchers were the participants. Interviews were conducted over the telephone.
Findings: The participants suggested varying constructions of public involvement in research. Arguments based on moral and political principles and consequentialist arguments for involving the public in research were offered and most participants highlighted the potential benefits of involving the public. However, feelings of apprehension expressed by some participants imply that a number of researchers may still be uncomfortable with involving the public, as it presents a different way of working.