School of Health Sciences and Social Work


People who use health and social care services (service users) and those who care for them (carers) are a precious resource for informing and steering health research projects, and the education of our students preparing to work in health and social care disciplines. At the School of Health Sciences and Social Work (SHSSW, University of Portsmouth) we are committed to involving service users and carers in the research we undertake and in our students’ learning.

In principle, anyone can join ENGAGE, as we are interested in recruiting anyone who uses health and social care services. You may be a patient, a carer, or a member of a local voluntary organisation such as Pompey Pensioners, Breathe Easy, Breast Friends or Diabetes UK. 


ENGAGE is also involved with the Research Design Service South Central (RDS SC), making sure that there is public and patient involvement in all aspects of health and social care research within the southern region, and working closely with researchers at Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, Solent NHS Trust and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

What does it involve?

There are several ways that you can get involved with ENGAGE. Firstly, we can offer you the opportunity to get involved with a research project, as much or as little as you want. You might like to help by giving your views at the inception and planning stage, or be involved in designing questionnaires, conducting interviews etc. There is support and training available to enable you to participate according to the level you would like. Our researchers always value the input from ENGAGE members as it helps them make their research projects more relevant to patients and the public, and therefore more successful.

Secondly, you could help course teams develop, review and contribute to the curriculum in SHSSW. This may be through ensuring that the views of service users are included in the design and content of our courses or by contributing to teaching sessions within seminars and discussions with students.

Thirdly, we have a growing number of research students conducting research projects for their Master’s and Doctorate qualifications. The ENGAGE group helps these students learn about public patient involvement in research, and often helps support these students in developing and realising their projects.

Lastly, the group is also beginning to become involved with researchers across the University to give input into other projects which affect the local community, for example in the Portsmouth Business School and the Department of Psychology.

Research project examples

The School of Health Sciences and Social Work and the Research Design Service South Central (RDS) are involved in a range of research topics. Most of the research projects are externally funded by organisations such as research charities, Department of Health etc.

An example of a current project is the ‘HIPHOP (Helping Injury Prevention in Hospitalised Older People) Research Project’, which is looking at the use of innovative shock-absorbing flooring to help reduce injuries from falls in older people whilst in hospital. We are very pleased that ENGAGE members are part of the steering committee for this project.

Another project looked at ways of improving the quality of life for children with speech and language difficulties. A member of ENGAGE helped shape this project from the beginning by helping researchers to develop the research tools and by joining the advisory committee for the study.


Through the RDS, members have also been involved with the development of several projects at Portsmouth Hospitals Trust and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, contributing to studies on topics such as asthma, breast cancer, obstetrics and gynaecology and gastroenterology.

What are the benefits of belonging to ENGAGE?

Members of Engage will have the opportunity to receive some training about the underlying principles of research, and then ongoing support and training will be provided for specific projects and roles. The group meets several times a year with researchers and academic staff to discuss projects, hear about initiatives in the University and health and social services, and receive training on topics identified as required by members of the group.

Members of Engage will also be invited to attend:

  • Staff and student presentations
  • School of Health Sciences & Social Work’s monthly Research Seminars
  • Research Design Service South Central Training Workshops
  • University of Portsmouth Research Conference

How to join

If you are interested, please contact us at:

Address: School of Health Sciences and Social Work, School Office, James Watson West, 2 King Richard 1st Road, Portsmouth PO1 2FR

You can also complete the Engage application form and send to: