Stakeholders’ experiences of the public health research process: time to change the system?

Yvonne Laird, Jillian Manner, Louise Baldwin, Ruth Hunter, John McAteer, Sarah Rodgers, Chloë Williamson, Ruth G. Jepson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background

The importance of engaging stakeholders in the research process is well recognised. Whilst engagement is important, guidelines and practices vary for how stakeholders should be involved in research and how to facilitate effective collaborative relationships.

Methods
This study aimed to explore the perspectives and experiences of stakeholders involved in the policy and practice area of outdoor space and non-communicable disease prevention. Stakeholders interviewed included academics, practitioners, policy-makers, knowledge brokers and a funder.
Results
The findings suggest that stakeholders had positive experiences when engaged meaningfully in the research process, where research projects were carefully planned and managed with attention to context and culture, and where the research team was effective, respectful and communicative. These factors help to facilitate the translation of research into policy and practice. However, multiple challenges of collaborative research were identified which related to structural and systemic challenges, building and maintaining relationships, use and collection of data and information, cultural perceptions of research and research generation, and getting evidence into action. Participants felt that changing the funding system, exploring more collaborative research methodologies, improved research translation, and more effective collaborative relationships at all stages of the research process could address some of these challenges.

Conclusions
The findings highlight that, whilst stakeholder engagement in research was considered important, structural, cultural and individual practices impacted how this worked in practice. Identifying and testing solutions to address these challenges could improve synergies between research, policy, and practice and lead to the production of impactful research that reduces wastage of public funding, improves implementation of findings and ultimately improves public health outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number83 (2020)
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Issue number18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • co-production
  • collaboration
  • interdisciplinary
  • action research
  • partnership

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