From the initial literature search the most useful website found was the INVOLVE website. We had previous experience of what INVOLVE could offer from when we were initially setting up the RUG, so we decided relevant information from them would be included in the tool, in particular their booklet specifically designed for researchers undertaking RUG involvement. When we contacted INVOLVE about current training courses available for staff, they were aware that this is an area which is currently deficient. The only course run by the NIHR CRN available is annually, but was not accessible during this project.
Key results of the initial staff survey were as follows:
Out of 100 members of staff 68 responded to the survey from all areas of work.
90% of staff felt RUG involvement was worthwhile.
50% had previously been involved in research which involved a user group, 44% had not and 6% did not know.
56% were not aware the arc had a RUG.
The survey was useful in collecting information on staff knowledge of the arc EU RUG, and how much work we would need to undertake to publicise the group and the benefits associated with the group.
The meetings at Keele and Warwick were very successful in many ways. Both groups gave lots of useful information into how they had initially recruited members to the group and what format their meetings took. We were also able to take away some literature which both groups had designed for the researcher and RUG to use, this included feedback forms for use when reviewing material submitted by the researcher. Both research units had experienced a steep learning curve in involving a RUG in their research and it was useful to find out what problems they had incurred along the way and how they had addressed these. Although both groups had information on the intranet for their staff, neither group had experience of formal training courses for staff in Patient and Public Involvement in research (PPI) – which is definitely something worth exploring.
During the project three RUG inductions took place with new members of staff which were all been very successful. In particular, one of the researchers quickly met with the group to discuss their research. They also had the opportunity to use the new Research Guidance Form; this form is used to inform the RUG what the researcher wants them to assess and includes a section for the RUG member’s comments. By using this form we can now document researcher/RUG communication, how useful this has been and it will also help when disseminating information back to the RUG on how their input has improved our research.
We have developed the information tool, with all the information we have collected. Once the webpage was up and running we sent out a launch email, presented PPI and the intranet to the research group and held drop in clinics for those who wanted more information on how to access the RUG.
We will evaluate the impact of the online information tool by sending a final survey out to staff, and looking at the number of hits on the website. It was clear from our networking and visits that there is a lack of web based training toolkits available for staff – we would hope to continue work in this area with the ultimate aim of developing a training toolkit for arc EU staff.