Inclusion Panel Our Inclusion Panel is helping us improve the way we plan, deliver and support research.

The Health Foundation’s research team set up the Inclusion Panel so that people whose views and experiences are not considered enough in planning, delivering and supporting health and social care research have opportunities to influence these processes and the outcomes of the research.

Panel members advise and challenge our staff and grant holders on the research we plan, fund and deliver – supporting our aim of contributing to a healthier population. Members come from all parts of the UK and have a wide range of lived expertise, knowledge and skills.

Members encourage staff and grant holders to address inequality and inclusion issues in their work better by:

  • advising on the right questions to ask
  • helping them interpret their results
  • advising on how to share results with diverse stakeholders to better create change
  • identifying areas for research.

The panel meets once a month for 2 hours to discuss one project. Staff or grant holders can also work with smaller groups or individuals from the panel. The research team manages these requests on a case-by-case basis.

Members who don’t represent an organisation that pays them can claim a payment (honorarium) for their involvement.

Timeline of the Inclusion Panel’s work so far

Colleagues from the communications team consulted the panel on updating our house style guide, Write right. They were especially interested in hearing the panel’s thoughts on how we should write about disability, race and ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, and poverty and inequalities.

Following a break for the summer holidays, members joined us in September to discuss their ideas for an event showcasing the Inclusion Panel’s story. A subgroup of the panel is now working with the Foundation and Furner Communications to plan the event. We expect it to happen in early 2022.

Colleagues from the Health Foundation's REAL Centre consulted the panel on plans for their upcoming REAL Centre Insights report.

The panel’s suggestions were really wide-ranging but unfortunately not all of the panel’s suggestions could be followed up. Part of this was driven by the data. For example, one suggestion was for more detailed analysis for specific demographic groups. The team were unable to do this analysis as the datasets did not always capture this level of detail. In other cases, the sample sizes would have been too small to analyse.

Claudia Barclay, part of the REAL Centre team, said:

'Two key things stick out for me. Firstly, the panel highlighted the importance of providing different ways for people to digest the report (for example, shorter explanations and visual options such as presentations or videos). We have spoken with our communications team and are planning to provide a presentation and potentially an infographic alongside the main report to give more options for the reader. Secondly, the panel also recommended we listen to stories from those using social care to consider the human aspect of the work. We have arranged follow-up sessions with some panel members to hear their stories and hopefully incorporate this thinking into the report.'

With funding from our COVID-19 Research Programme, a team at Newcastle University is trying to uncover how and why some communities have been affected more than others by COVID-19. They explored these questions with the panel.

The panel provided fresh ideas on factors that may affect geographical inequalities in COVID-19 that the research team (drawing on established literature) had not thought of. They are now using the new factors where there are data available to measure them.

The team is currently preparing a paper on how inequalities in COVID-19 (deaths and cases) have evolved and another – which draws most on the panel’s input – exploring which factors have impacted these inequalities.

Clare Bambra, part of the team at Newcastle University, said:

'The Inclusion Panel was extremely well run and thought-provoking with fantastic ideas for our research project. It also offered more fundamental challenges and insights into how we should communicate our science – to all parts of the public.'

A team from the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) asked the panel about the public engagement aspects of their review of the key challenges likely to put pressure on the health and social care system over winter 2021/22.

The discussions with the Inclusion Panel helped shape the team’s public engagement workshops. AMS also shared the panel’s insights with their Expert Group, which in turn influenced the group’s input.

AMS published their analysis in July, acknowledging the Inclusion Panel’s contributions in the paper that was presented to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). The report was then cited in the UK Government’s Autumn and Winter Plan.

In 2020 we supported two studies as part of the Welfare at a Social Distance project. Researchers from the project asked the panel about the fairness of Universal Credit and the pros and cons of making part of the benefits system work like furlough did.

Ben Baumberg Geiger, part of the project team at the University of Kent, said:

'We learnt a lot about the problems people had had with the benefits system. This was partly about the problems of dealing with a digital system, which was particularly valuable as we hadn’t been able to cover this much in our research. And we got a really strong sense of the issues of power, which I think is a really important thing that the panel can tell us about. In the short-term, it shaped our discussions with people about benefits non-take-up and what to do about it. After our report we had lots of chats with people about this, including with DWP. And perhaps the most powerful impacts are in the longer-term: I am trying to set up a new project to look at issues of power in the benefits system, and how this is different in different countries.'

The panel shared some of their own ideas for research that the Foundation should pursue – research on the health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities and trans people.

Staff who attended this meeting said it was really valuable and gave them a lot to think about for their future work.

Researchers from the University of Sussex came to the February meeting to ask the panel about their thoughts on ethnic inequalities in health care use, quality and satisfaction among people with multiple long-term health problems.

The research team and Ipsos MORI presented plans for the Long-term Research Agenda: a programme exploring how research can contribute to the UK’s future resilience and preparedness for health shocks in the wake of COVID-19.

Engaging with the Inclusion Panel helped the team realise that they need to fundamentally reshape their projects plans and research design (protocol). For example, Ipsos MORI introduced five mini-workshops with members from the Inclusion Panel, as well as young people, older people, people from minority ethnic groups and disabled people, to consider the wider determinants of health and the impact of COVID-19. 

The mini-workshops enabled panel members and others to share their lived experiences first hand. This allowed the team to better understand how they had been affected by COVID-19, and to think about what support people might need in the future.

The Health Foundation's REAL Centre presented their plans to explore inequalities in health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Inclusion Panel shared their experiences of the pandemic and their suggestions for differences in health outcomes for different groups. They highlighted several issues including the assumptions that researchers and others make about people’s lives and experiences because they are part of certain communities.

What do our members say about the panel?

Contact us

If you want to find out more about the Inclusion Panel, please email Hardeep Aiden or Sarah Singfield at inclusion.panel@health.org.uk

If you think you could help researchers address inequality and inclusion issues in their work, get in touch today. We are looking for new people to join the panel, especially if you want your voice to be heard and you haven’t had the opportunity to get involved in something like this before.

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