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Research volunteers feel valued by researchers, survey finds

Research participants talking

Published: 26 October 2022

Results from the 2021/22 NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Participant in Research Experience Survey (PRES) show that 92% of adults and 95% of young people felt their contribution to studies was valued by the researchers and study teams.

Those surveyed praised research teams for their kindness, friendliness and knowledge, despite ongoing pressures on the NHS.

A remarkable year for research

2021/22 was another extraordinary year for the UK research system, as we continue to reset research following the pandemic.

25,459 adult participants completed PRES. All 15 local CRNs supported the survey, with their partner organisations across England.

The results of the adult and young people’s surveys both present positive experiences of taking part in research.

97% of adults and 98% of young people said they were treated with courtesy and respect.

93% of adults and 92% of young people say they would consider taking part in research again.

Angela Polanco, Head of Public Engagement at NIHR Clinical Research Network, said:

“Despite the sustained pressures on the NHS, in another challenging year for research delivery, it’s wonderful to see positive results generated from PRES. Research teams can feel proud of their work delivering studies responding to the pandemic, alongside supporting the recovery of the UK research portfolio.

“This is the first time we’ve analysed the Children and Young People’s PRES against the adult survey. The results will bring us a greater insight into the wider experience of taking part in research, allowing us to better measure study performance and experience in the future.”

The Children's and Young People survey

This year, for the first time, analysis of the Children’s and Young People’s survey results took place alongside the adult survey.

This will provide greater insight into how the age of study participants might have an impact on research experience. 252 responses received for the young people's survey in 2021/22.

Respondents to the Children’s and Young People survey were between 0 and 15 years old. Depending on their age, they received an adapted survey version: 0-6 years, 7-11 years, and 12-15 years.

As with the results from the adult survey, interactions with study delivery teams were key to a good research experience. Parents and children both praised staff’s abilities to put families at ease with the research process.

Informing research delivery 

The results of this year’s PRES show clear areas of celebration. For example, how study teams across England create a positive and welcoming environment for research participants.

Communication about what to expect from studies, and practical considerations for young children when taking part in research, were identified as areas of improvement in both adult and young people surveys.

Feedback from young participants will enable the NIHR to continue improving the national delivery of research, while providing a benchmark for measuring study performance and experience for future Children’s and Young People surveys.

Read the Executive Summary of the Participant in Research Experience Survey 2021/22.

For a PDF copy of the full Participant in Research Experience Survey 2021/22 annual report, please email the national CRN PPIE team.

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