There are already many initiatives underway to talk to the public and patients about how data is used. By highlighting good practice and sharing ideas among the community, we want to help support future conversations.

Public engagement can take many different forms – from simply providing information through to actively collaborating with patients to help shape the design of a project. In some cases you may need a campaign to raise awareness, or there may be opportunities for dialogue activities, to help you understand more about what people think.

Examples

Here are some examples of public and patient engagement activities that have worked well recently.

We want to add many more, so please get in touch to let us know what you have already done, and what you have planned.

#datasaveslives is a public engagement campaign started by The Farr Institute to highlight the positive impact of health informatics research on public health.

Get involved by pledging your support and using #datasaveslives on twitter. Or simply follow the conversation by searching #datasavelives to find out what the community is currently working on.

Citizens’ jury is a method to involve the wider community in decision-making. It involves briefing citizens in detail on a particular issue and asking them to produce a report with recommendations. The method can be used to complement other forms of consultation.

The Connected Health Cities (CHC) programme carried out two citizens’ juries to explore whether its planned and potential uses of health data were acceptable to the public.

Each jury was made up of 18 citizens and ran over four days. The citizens were asked to address a set of questions about how CHC should protect and use health data, and to judge what was acceptable. Over the four days, citizens heard from and asked questions of expert witnesses, and carried out group exercises. They reached conclusions together, and were polled on their individual views at the start and end of the process.

Findings from the citizens’ juries will impact on the way data is used across the CHC programme.

Jury design documents, support material and videos are available, and explain how the juries were run.

Our conversation with Mary Tully tells about how citizen's juries made her work trustworthy.  

The Nest is an interactive theatre production commissioned by the NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, written and produced by Stand and Be Counted Theatre and supported by the Public Programmes Team at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Based on the theme of sharing personal data and health information, the Nest was used as a way of introducing the topic to a wide ranging audience and to find out what people's perceptions and opinions are.

Focusing on the relationship between a father and daughter, Sean and Sara, it is set in a world where Sean's wi-fi enabled smart home system takes care of all his needs, but also monitors his behaviour and health. The play follows Sean and Sara's changing attitudes towards The Nest, covering issues such as sharing information on social media, attitudes towards sharing health data for different purposes and targeted advertising.

Alongside the performance, the audience are also invited to take part in a post-show discussion to explore the play’s themes and discuss their own feelings on data sharing.

Preparation for and audience reactions of the 2015 and 2017 performances are summarised using storify.

2015 performance  

2017 performance  

The Nest - Public Programmes Team case study  

The Administrative Data Research Network produces a podcast series - Data Points. Each podcast is a 15 minute interview with a data expert about how they access and work with data to address major issues. Listeners can hear from those championing the use of the data and researchers.

Learning from others

We’ve been speaking to people who have run engagement activities to hear their advice for what works, and what doesn’t work. If you have experience you would like to share, please get in touch to discuss further.

In conversation with...Mary Tully on how citizen's juries made her work trustworthy.  

In conversation with...Mhairi Aitken on using humour and stand up comedy to connect with a wider audience. 

Tips and advice

  • Talk about the why – it’s vital to explain why using data is so important to improve health and care for everyone.

    Be open and honest – it’s important to acknowledge that nothing is risk free.

    Try to provide information in layers, with a clear and accessible summary but more detail available if required.

  • Don’t forget to talk about the safeguards, and how data will be kept safe and secure to protect privacy.

    Don’t only talk to people who think the same as you – it’s important to engage with people who hold a range of views. And don’t forget that there isn’t one single ‘public’, and that patients might have a different opinion.

    Don’t rely just on one format to provide information – printed leaflets and posters, social media, websites and conversations all have a role.

Resources

These resources are free to use and re-usable under a CC-BY licence. You can use them when talking to the public and patients, or to help create your own material. If you know of any other resources that should be added here, please get in touch.

Involve and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement have numerous resources which are freely available.

And don’t forget to use #datasaveslives on twitter.

Let us know what you’re doing

We're always interested in hearing what you are doing and we need your help to add many more examples to this page. Please email hello@understandingpatientdata.org.uk telling us what you have already done, and what you have planned so we can build a fuller list of activities.