NIHR Manchester Musculoskeletal BRU Patient and Public Involvement Strategy


This case study outlines the collaboration between the Public Programmes Team and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Manchester Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) in developing and delivering a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) strategy. The BRU is an NIHR funded partnership between Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester, with the aim to assess and improve response in prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders.


  • Consult and listen to patients and members of the public interested in musculoskeletal research
  • Embed patients and members of the public within BRU decision-making processes
  • Inform, educate and stimulate thinking about the BRU’s work through methods targeted at different audiences
  • Deliver creative and innovative public programmes to appeal to diverse audiences


What we did

The formation of the BRU’s Public and Patient Involvement group in 2012, chaired by the Public Programmes Team, created a driving force behind the BRU’s PPI work. Members meet monthly to plan and lead on engagement activities and resources. Working with the BRU’s research theme leads, we have created an environment where academics and clinicians of all levels working within the BRU understand the importance of involving and engaging public and patients in their research. A Research User Group (RUG) of patients and carers was established in collaboration with the Centre for Musculoskeletal Research at The University of Manchester. Members of the group regularly review grant applications, study protocols, patient information sheets/consent forms from a patient’s perspective and input to our public engagement activities as well.


  • Jargon buster of scientific terms developed through consultation with the Research User Group.
  • Patient/carer representation at all key BRU meetings (away days, scientific advisory board meetings) and BRU staff present regularly at RUG meetings.
  • A PPI co-ordinator has been appointed for each research theme to lead on all engagement activities.


  • 7,000 people have attended our events and open days
  • 11 patients and carers in our Research User Group
  • 1 Jargon buster created

I’ve met doctors and researchers working at the cutting edge of arthritis medicine. But they’re also there to listen to me.

Susan Moore – RUG member

I learnt that pains are different in different places and that everyone’s DNA is different and unique.

Comments from 6 year old at Manchester Museum of Science and Industry