PPIE Award Winner 2023: COVID-19 Shielding Stories

by | Mar 26, 2024 | PPIE Award Winners, PPIE Celebration | 0 comments

Image taken from: Centre for Epidemiology | COVID Voices: Creative Materials (manchester.ac.uk)

In this blog series we will be featuring our award winners and highly commended recipients from the Faculty’s ‘Outstanding Contribution to PPIE’ awards. Showcasing the inspirational and outstanding commitment to PPIE that has made a positive difference to our community and highlighting the amazing events, activities, people and groups from across the Faculty. 

Our next blog in this series will feature the COVID shielding stories project, a co-produced research project to understand the voice of people living with arthritis and auto-immune disease. The team won the Inclusivity category at the 2023 awards. 

People living with arthritis and musculoskeletal disease were amongst those identified as “clinically extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19 by the NHS England. Research, commissioned by Versus Arthritis, found the approach to shielding was unclear, causing confusion and uncertainty amongst patients.  

To explore the shielding experiences of those living with these conditions, the COVID shielding stories project was conceived by Lynn Laidlaw and Joyce Fox, patient contributors to the Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis. With Dr Charlotte Sharp as principal investigator (PI) and Professors Dixon and Sanders supporting them, they were awarded funding to undertake the research as patient contributors. The three core team members (Laidlaw, Sharp and Fox) worked as collaborators and a four-person patient advisory group contributed to project planning and data analysis. 

To enhance inclusion and participation, participants were invited to use creative materials instead of or alongside interviews and focus group participation. Participants used produced materials such as photography, poetry, written pieces, music, sculpture, paintings, and drawings. These are available to view on the project blog site.  

The findings of the project were presented at a sold-out celebration event for participants. Participants provided emotional testimonials about the impact of the project and the inclusive approach taken by the team. The team’s approach to research has been recognised by the Health Research Authority, used as a case study in their ‘Make it Public’ campaign, featuring on their website and at a workshop. 

The findings have been published by Versus Arthritis and the full report has been submitted to the Government COVID-19 inquiry, the Department of Health and Social Care and other influential patient organisations. Release of the full report obtained media attention, including on the BBC and in the I newspaper. Furthermore, two research abstracts have been accepted and a paper is being finalised. The team have presented orally at over 12 national events, including being a prize-winner at the Royal Society for Medicine Trainee Research Prize. 

Alongside improving understanding of the impact of the pandemic, the COVID shielding stories project’s approach is an outstanding example of inclusivity in research and will be used to inform research practice into the future. 

Find out more: 

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To find out more about PPIE: watch our short film, sign up to the monthly Public Engagement Digest, visit the PPIE blog, or contact srbmh@manchester.ac.uk.    

To read more about other PPIE Award winners visit here