The public interest

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter provides an introduction to the concept of ‘the public interest’ in health research regulation (HRR). It considers two key ways that the public interest is constructed in HRR: namely as a legal device and through empirical evidence of the views of publics. To appreciate the scope of this concept, the public interest is set in its broader context, i.e. beyond HRR, highlighting that, historically, it has been a contested concept that is difficult to define in the abstract. Next, the public interest is situated within HRR, paying attention first to how it features in the HRR legal landscape and then how this is constructed through the views of publics (with specific reference to the use of identifiable health data for research). Both conceptualisations are analysed with reference to the key challenges and opportunities that they present before a holistic concept of the public interest in HRR is proposed and consideration given to how this may be operationalised in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Health Research Regulation
EditorsGraeme Laurie, Edward Dove, Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra, Catriona McMillan, Emily Postan, Nayha Sethi, Annie Sorbie
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781108620024
ISBN (Print)9781108475976
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameCambridge Law Handbooks
PublisherCambridge University Press


  • public interest
  • public involvement
  • governance


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