Health research funders in the UK now ask applicants to state how their research will involve patients and members of the public. Such involvement can help with questions that researchers repeatedly face: about improving trial recruitment, response rates and follow-up. Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in research is usually presented in the form of a ladder, from a low rung where studies are led by researchers with no patient involvement, to a high rung where studies are patient-led. This hierarchy does not sit well with many clinicians and academics whose expertise appears to have been downgraded. This article argues that research quality and relevance are optimised when patient expertise is integrated with researchers' and policy-makers' expertise, and each role acknowledged and valued, illustrated by an alternative model for PPI which places research and expertise at the centre of the involvement enterprise.
The Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd 2012