Introduction: Public and patient involvement (PPI) in clinical research is increasingly advocated by funding and regulatory bodies. However little is known about the views of either academics or members of the public about perceptions of the practical realities of PPI, particularly in relation to ageing research.
Methods: This mixed-methods study aimed to compare the views of academics and the public about PPI in biomedical and clinical research about ageing. Groups of clinical and biomedical researchers (senior academics and PhD students) working on projects related to ageing were sent an electronic survey about their perceptions of PPI. Members of a local user group of older people were sent a similar survey, and asked to provide feedback on lay summaries written by academics. Comparative results were presented at a meeting for academics and members of the public to discuss and verify the findings.
Results: 18 senior academics and 15 PhD students completed the survey (response rates 75% and 88% respectively). 54 members of the public completed the survey and provided feedback on lay summaries. Members of the public were more optimistic about active involvement in research about ageing than academics. The perceived benefits of and barriers to involvement in research were similar amongst all groups. The meeting between members of the public and academics allowed discussion about potential reasons for differences in opinions and exploration of areas of consensus about involvement. Academics valued the feedback on lay summaries provided by members of the public.
Conclusions: Academics and members of the public share some perceptions about PPI in ageing research, such as agreement about key benefits and barriers, but members of the public are more optimistic about active involvement. Further discussion between these groups would help to identify feasible involvement activities for older people and encourage collaborative research about ageing.