Engage and involve communities

NIHR is committed to engaging and involving communities from low and middle income countries (LMICs) in designing and delivering global health research. Involving communities in LMICs who are affected by the health challenge you are researching will improve the reach, quality and impact of your research.

Community engagement and involvement for NIHR research proposals

All applicants for NIHR global health research funding are required to plan for and undertake active and participatory community engagement and involvement (CEI). This is  known in the UK as patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE). 

Patients, carers and vulnerable groups who are at the greatest risk within a given community will normally be the key groups included in CEI activities. Community leaders, non-governmental and civil society organisations, faith groups, service commissioners and providers, and policy and law makers are examples other stakeholders who may be involved. 

There is no standard model for CEI. Applicants should demonstrate that their CEI approach is appropriate and effective in the local context and for their study design, and that those in the community who are most affected are empowered to contribute towards decision-making. 

Once research funding has been awarded, CEI activities are monitored for the duration of the research and are included in our final overall impact assessment at the end of the study.

Advice on CEI

The UNICEF minimum quality standards and indicators in community engagement act as a guide for establishing intentional and structured community engagement at the core of sustainable development progress.

We have produced a Resource guide for community engagement and involvement in global health research (PDF or HTML version) with the Institute of Development Studies that offers detailed advice to applicants.

The following additional advice is available to support high quality CEI:

The MESH community engagement network is a collaborative community that supports networking and sharing of good practice, to bridge the gap between the research community and the general public in LMICs. The MESH website offers resources, discussion and training for community engagement with global health research. We’ve collaborated with MESH to signpost researchers to CEI resources of particular interest to people applying for NIHR funding.

We have a Global Health CEI Advisory Network that brings together people with knowledge and experience of public involvement in research and community engagement in LMICs, to share knowledge and experience around CEI. Find out more about the network.

Related pages


  • Resource guide for community engagement and involvement in global health research
  • PDF
  • HTML version

External links