Joint Research Office


PPI in a pandemic

Remote PPI can be a challenge but we would encourage researchers to keep their patient involvement going.

Top Tips

If you are going to halt PPI activities, write and let all the people you have involved so far know what you are planning to do.

Don’t forget your can use more conventional methods of communication such as email and telephone calls. But you will lose out on the value of a debate and discussion where people exchange information and respond to each other.

  • If you are planning to set up focus groups via video conferencing, consider using zoom and skype as most of our patient network are familiar with these platforms. 
    • the web-based video conferencing tool Zoom is accessible to most people online or via a mobile app. There are instructions online at zoom.us on how to set up Zoom on a computer and on your mobile. 
    • Alternatively, Skype is a more common option. Skype can also be downloaded at skype.com
  • Tips for video meetings:
  • Make sure all participants are familiar with the tool you are using and if they are new to it recommend that they download it ahead of the meeting.
  • Bear in mind that people with hearing impairment may be worried they may not find the tool so easy. If so you may need to do a trial with them beforehand
  • Send an agenda ahead and if you can send a paper version of any papers you want people to read ahead
  • Allow 5 minutes at the beginning of the meeting to enable people to sort themselves out. Also allow comfort/tea breaks during long meetings and make sure people know when they will be and that you have instructions for rejoining the meeting.
  • Some tools allow you to record the meeting. You should only do so  if you have everyone’s permission. But be aware people may not be so open if they think they are being recorded.
  • With video meetings especially, make sure everyone has a chance to speak. Perhaps ask each person in turn what they think about certain points/issues.
  • Remember that zoom meetings unless you have upgraded (for a nominal fee) from the free version are limited to 40 minutes.

How we can help you – including help with remote PPI 

Continue to contact us at ppihelpdesk@ucl.ac.uk for advice and help, including the below help.

  • Our regular PPI training sessions for researchers are currently being held in video conference format. For more information on the different sessions and to sign up go to our PPI Training page.
  • The BRC has a network of patients who are happy to get involved remotely in inputting into research and who have already been given advice on using zoom and skype. 
  • The BRC bursary panel has agreed to put aside some money for researchers needing help with remote PPI costs. 
  • We can provide advice and tutorials on specific issues.

For more general tips on PPI:

Other resources