Public participation involves the public in making decisions or solving problems that affect them. BSA as an organisation expounds the ideals of knowledge, learning, practice and impact and ultimately the impact is upon individuals with hearing and balance problems. Whether our own goal is to explore how we can improve awareness of the benefits of hearing aids, or the effect of deafness on quality of life, or perhaps the importance of participation in research projects, successful public engagement will provide a unique and valuable perspective.
Engaging with patients and the public strengthens accountability and helps healthcare and related organisations, such as research programmes, to build a mutually beneficial relationship with their current and potential service users. It can help us identify public needs in relation to hearing and balance, and to develop our strategies and priorities.
For successful public engagement we need to clear on the goal of the participation and then use the appropriate tools and processes to support that goal. There are many tools which can be used for engagement, for example in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Suggestions of public engagement tools
Choosing the right tool for the task is important. For example, you would set up an ‘inform the public’ event rather than an ‘input-gathering’ activity if a decision around the particular issue had already in fact been made. This would avoid the risk of the public losing confidence in the reason for their participation.
For more information on Patient and Public Engagement see: