My first academic journal article – Laura Gill

Well, the milestone of publishing my first academic journal article has been reached. What can I say other than I am excited about my contribution to an article being published in Health Expectations. Hopefully sometime this month the article will be in print:

Taylor C, Gill L, Gibson A, Byng R, Quinn C. (Forthcoming). ‘Engaging ‘Seldom Heard’ Groups in Research and Intervention Development: Offender Mental Health.’ Health Expectations

We’ll tweet about it once the article is available online!

In the piece, relating to the Engager study (Engager 2: Developing and Evaluating a Collaborative Care Intervention), we discuss how people who are subject to the criminal justice system often hold very different life experiences to the rest of society. We explore how Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) of ‘seldom heard’ groups can give valuable knowledge and be key in developing a research project, by sharing their experiences and telling us what matters to them the most. Our PPI helped us to develop intervention theory development, trial science and a dissemination strategy.

Engager 2 has emphasised the importance of PPI contributions to research and used their expert knowledge in all aspects of the project. This has been most notable in shaping study documents, training academic researchers, helping us to hone our data collection and analysis methodology and techniques, intervention delivery and theory development along with trial science. Including PPI within Engager not only raised the confidence of the peer researchers, it also challenged researcher knowledge and skills. The reciprocal process helped us to build a deeper shared understanding of what an Engager intervention needed to achieve.

In addition to the upcoming paper, the Engager team also received a ‘highly commended’ award as part of the NIHR CRN Mental Health McPin MQ Service User and Carer Involvement in Research Awards of 2018. This was a proud moment for the team.

What next for me? After some years as a mature student alongside working in PPI for Engager 2, I took up a post as a research assistant working on the project ‘Partners 2 – Collaborative Care for People with Severe Mental Illness’. When I originally started a part time degree alongside work I had aspirations of working as a primary school teacher. During my undergraduate degree I changed jobs and started working in a research environment, I found research captivating and wanted to make a change to people’s lives. On completion of my undergraduate degree I undertook MSc Social Research at the University of Plymouth.

I’m not actively working as a research assistant at this time, but have a research support role at the University and use my administrative skills and research skills across a variety of projects. I believe that research is key to introducing and testing health initiatives and interventions for the most vulnerable in our society and gives a voice to those who would not always be heard. I am proud to be a part of the University of Plymouth Community and Primary Care Research Group within the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

Thanks for reading!

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