More than a bunch of stories…


The value of the researchers’ experience

It’s anecdotal. It’s weak evidence – it’s just a bunch of stories!

These are criticisms sometimes levelled at the patients’ perspective. I think it’s interesting that the same criticisms are currently being made of researchers. I keep reading reports stating that the published evidence of the impact of involvement is weak and anecdotal – because it’s mostly made up of researchers’ ‘stories’.

But working in patient and public involvement we’re always talking about the value of experiential knowledge. Surely it can’t be that ‘patients’ stories’ have value, but ‘researchers’ stories’ don’t?

We don’t respond to these criticisms of the patient experience by arguing that what’s needed is more rigorous and robust research into patients’ lives. So why do we respond to these criticisms of the researchers’ experience by arguing that more robust measures of impact are required?

Maybe we need to listen to our own arguments on this one? We’ve nearly twenty years of experience and hundreds of researchers’ and patients’ ‘stories’ of involvement to reflect on – could we be doing more to draw out their valuable insights and learning?


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