Terms such as 'participation' 'public participation' 'patient involvement' and 'involvement' are often defined slightly differently by individuals, and there is overlap within those definitions. This was reflected in the research process as interviewees offered varied reflections on the term 'participation':

'Participation is everybody feeling that they have the ability to contribute.'

It is joining in the decision making process- whether it be your own care or the running of your local hospital.

Its about people feeling , feeling and being involved in, whatever process it is, feeling they own it and they can influence it.

I think potentially its very powerful, but initially at least its largely on an individual level and the aggregated community participation probably still needs some work and some volumes built up.

Indeed throughout our work in the area; involvement and participation are consistently taken to mean a plethora of different things to different audiences in differing circumstances. Therefore we have chosen to open the definitions to the most inclusive terms possible to reflect the broad scope of this research process:


At its most pared down level, involvement is about effective information provision: to all of the right people, at the right time in the most accessible way for that individual’s needs.


Involvement is also about providing an opportunity to give feedback and response to information and service provision in a structured or conversational fashion.


In its most complex and engaging form, involvement is a method of encouraging participation in service provision on a number of different levels in a more continuous and discursive way.

Involvement in healthcare can also be understood in two modes:

  • Personal involvement with the Health Service whether in terms of wellness prevention or healthcare relationships on an individual level
  • Group involvement in the shaping of services from either staff or user perspective