Encouraging under-represented audiences to participate in health and care research for National Institute of Health and Care Research

Our input

  • Behaviour change
  • Strategy

Every improvement delivered in healthcare shares a common origin: high quality research. Taking part in research is a powerful act that improves health outcomes for all. The NIHR’s Be Part of Research service aims to increase participation in research, especially among often under-represented groups, to drive those improvements in care for everyone, faster.

We partnered with NIHR to review their understanding about these audiences and combined this with a literature review to uncover the attitudes, motivations, and demographic factors that would need to be addressed to improve participation.

We ran focus groups which helped further crystallise the barriers. They included fear of the participatory risks, and concerns about the time and practical commitments involved. But we also identified positive motivations, such as altruism.

The insights helped us hone messaging, tune into the factors that enable participation and address the misconceptions that had blocked the way. We then devised a campaign strategy to put these messages to work, adopting the EAST framework – for participation to be Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely for volunteers to sign up. We equipped the in-house comms
team at NIHR with an evidence-based messaging resource and a practical strategy for putting this to work with confidence, as well as a stakeholder engagement strategy.

But campaigns only work if organisations can mobilise around them – so we were delighted to be re-appointed later in 2023 to conduct a listening exercise among NIHR’s internal teams and close stakeholders within NHS Trusts to understand how to drive better engagement in NIHR campaigns.

Claremont has been a pleasure to work with: professional, proactive and considered in their advice and strategic direction. We look forward to implementing their recommendations and behavioural insights to maximise the reach and inclusiveness of our services for all.

– Angela Polanco, National Head of Public Engagement at NIHR