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NIHR publishes framework to promote race equality in public involvement in research

Published: 20 April 2022

The NIHR is proud to publish our Race Equality Framework - a self-assessment tool to help organisations improve racial equality in public involvement in health and care research. The Framework will help assess how policies, practices and culture could be changed to better serve diverse communities, foster improved race relations and ultimately improve healthcare delivery.

The NIHR recognises the damage caused by systemic racism and is demonstrating a commitment to change by making race a top priority. This is a key part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

The Framework has been co-produced by members of the NIHR’s Race Equality Public Action Group (REPAG). REPAG aims to work with Black African, Asian and Caribbean heritage communities to strengthen NIHR’s understanding of race inequality in health and social care research and advise on actions to take.

The need for action

Evidence demonstrates that ethnicity and race systematically influence health and care outcomes.

The ethnic diversity of those who participate in or shape health and care research often does not reflect that of the population affected by the issue being researched. In addition, too few of the public contributors who work with the NIHR are of Black African, Asian or Caribbean heritage.

It is vital that these groups have a stronger influence in shaping health and social care research to ensure services meet the needs of the whole population. The Race Equality Framework is part of the NIHR’s work to actively address these inequities. It is a transferable model that supports inclusive practice across other protected characteristics.

Royston John REPAG co-chair said: “The Race Equality Framework provides an opportunity to address how the history of medical neglect has impacted adversely on Black African, Asian and Caribbean heritage people. The Framework lights a torch enabling organisations previously stranded to move towards compliance and compassion under the banner of health equality for all. It is a delight to be part of this agenda”.

Community consultation

Community consultation was integral to the Framework’s development. The NIHR heard people’s experiences and views on how to reduce barriers to health and care research for Black African, Asian and Caribbean heritage people. The NIHR have also published a report synthesising those critical insights, and setting the scene for the Framework and why it is needed.

The Framework was refined following community consultations and through field-testing by 16 varied research organisations. The pilot partners were vital in shaping the final version and we are extremely grateful for their input.

Nick McNally, Managing Director, Research at UCLH/UCL who piloted the framework said: “Our experience of piloting the Race Equality Framework is helping us shape our existing work in several ways. We created a new post to focus on increasing research involvement from under-represented racial groups and embed the Framework into our research work and we’re setting up a panel of Black African, Asian and Caribbean community group members who we will work with to identify barriers to participation in research at UCLH”.

A tool for tackling inequity in health and care research

We want organisations to feel emboldened to identify, assess and challenge existing thinking and practice. The questions in each of its five self-assessment domains — Individual Responsibility, Leadership, Public Partnerships, Recruitment, and Systems & Processes — speak to that vision.

Jeremy Taylor, NIHR Director for Public Voice said: “I’m proud to be the NIHR sponsor of REPAG and of this important self-assessment framework. It has been co-produced with public members and shaped in the 16 organisations where it has been trialled. It will help build racial competence among the research community and is one of the key planks in NIHR's efforts to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in health and care research.”

What’s next?

Anyone who would like to support or adopt the framework in their organisation should contact REPAG. In the future, REPAG will be establishing a national network to help colleagues embed the Framework in their organisations.

Read more about the Race Equality Public Action Group:

View the Race Equality Framework as a web document or browse the Race Equality Framework PDF

NIHR establishes a Race Equality Public Action Group

NIHR recruits research organisations to promote race equality in health research

Race equality in public involvement

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