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At the 2018 Imperial Festival we opened the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Café for the first time. A new PPI methodology – a hybrid between a science café and a more typical PPI workshop – it was designed by five Imperial research centres in partnership with Patient and Public members.
Our aim was simple: to give the public a flavour of PPI by contributing to real-life research projects. As well as getting fresh public input into some projects, we wanted to try something novel in PPI and to have some fun.
Why a café?
Despite their modern association with tax-dodging and precarious labour, coffee houses have for centuries been associated with free discussion and the exchange of ideas. We wanted to set up a café that would make for a welcoming environment in which people felt able to discuss research openly. Cafés also have a degree of universality, meaning that in future we could apply the concept across different sites and diverse audiences.
How does the PPI Café work?
The café “baristas” – both researchers and public partners – gave the public a brief overview of PPI before inviting them to join a table in the café. A facilitator would introduce the public to the background and aims of a real-life Imperial research project. The public were then posed questions the researcher wanted feedback on and invited to make suggestions on how to improve the study.
In conversation with researchers, our café visitors filled up our coffee jars full of comments and suggestions. Public input was welcomed across the research cycle, from study design to implementing. Our research teams are now analysing the comments and looking at how these can be incorporated into their studies.
Research questions included:
What can be improved?
What is the future of the café?
We hope to take the café on tour to locations across London, fuelling caffeinated discussions about research. Another idea is to turn the café into a “backpack” resource that researchers can pick up and take out to coffee shops.
The PPI Cafe was run by Imperial Clinical Trials Unit (ICTU), NIHR/Wellcome Trust Imperial Clinical Research Facility (CRF), NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC), NIHR London IVD Co-operative at Imperial College London, and NIHR Imperial BRC Patient Experience Research Centre (PERC).