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Record numbers share their experiences of taking part in research

Decorative image of people completing survey.

Published: 21 September 2023

2022/23 was a bumper year for the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Participant in Research Survey (PRES). More participants shared their experiences of taking part in research than ever before.

A total of 32,603 participants from over 2,400 research studies completed the PRES, an increase of 27% on the previous year.
30,705 adult participants and 1,898 children and young people completed the PRES. All 15 local CRNs and their partner organisations across England supported the survey.

Together, the results of the adult and young people’s surveys paint a picture of what is needed for a positive research experience.

Voices of the research volunteers heard

95% of adults and 96% of young people felt they were treated with courtesy and respect. And 91% of adults and 92% of young people said they would consider taking part in research again. Participants were also positive about the information they received before taking part. This prepared them for their experience on the study with 93% adults and 97% of young people ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’.

Results show that 91% of adults and 95% of young people ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ their contribution to research studies was valued by researchers and study teams.

An adult survey respondent, 2022/23, said:

“[I was] made to feel that every contribution I made was valuable to the team. It was good to be part of a research trial that has made a positive difference and saved lives.”

How Age Impacts a Participants' Experience

The adult PRES responses were compared with the separate Children’s and Young People PRES. This provided an insight into whether the age of study participants had an impact on their research experience.

Respondents to the Children’s and Young People survey were aged 15 and younger.

As with adult respondents, children praised the abilities of staff to make them feel valued for their contribution to research.
A children and young people survey respondent, 2022/23, said:

“Staff were all very nice and explained the process well, so we always felt informed and valued as participants.”

Informing research delivery in the future

The results of this year’s PRES demonstrate local areas of good practice, such as study teams treating participants with kindness, courtesy and respect. Also practical considerations such as information provided at the start of the study were praised.

Potential areas for improvement included:

  • information about study updates
  • practical considerations such as who to contact
  • knowing how they would receive the results of the study
  • continuing to improve survey accessibility
  • explore variations in experience scores between different locations.

Angela Polanco, Head of Public Engagement at NIHR CRN, said:

“It’s fantastic to see the increased numbers of participants taking part in PRES. By sharing their experiences with us, study participants are helping to make the participant experience central to the way we deliver research.

“The results of PRES allow us to share learning opportunities and examples of good practice both nationally and locally. We are committed to continuing to improve PRES survey accessibility, opening it up to as many participants as possible. We want to make sure that research participants receive the information that they need, in a timely and accessible manner and that they know who to speak to if they have questions.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to our research staff, the participants, and to the respondents of the PRES survey for their valued contributions.”

Read the Executive Summary of the Participant in Research Experience Survey 2022/23

For a PDF copy of the full Participant in Research Experience Survey 2022/23 annual report please email the national CRN PPIE team.

More information about PRES

What is PRES?

PRES is an annual nationally standardised survey used to collect adults and children’s views and experiences of participating in NIHR supported research. Now in its eighth year, PRES was developed by the NIHR CRN to demonstrate to research participants that their contribution is valued, and to help make meaningful improvements to research based on people’s real-life experience. It is the largest survey of its kind, with all 15 local CRNs across England supporting it.

Why NIHR conducts PRES

Research is a partnership between the people who volunteer to take part, known as participants, and the researchers. Every year, the NIHR asks thousands of participants to give feedback on their experience. Their feedback helps improve the way research studies are designed and delivered, now and in the future, so that we can positively impact people’s experience of recruitment to, and taking part in, research.

2022/23 is the second time that findings from the Children’s and Young People’s survey were able to be analysed alongside the adult survey.

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