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Research coffee mornings reveal unexpected benefits of building public involvement

People across Wessex are hearing about research at virtual meetings run by University Hospital Southampton (UHS).

Involving people in health and care research is about more than asking them to take part in a trial or study. Volunteers also help to shape our research activities – what we do and how we do it. We call this Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE).

This helps to ensure our trials and studies provide maximum benefit to people’s health.

Virtual coffee mornings are one way our researchers can connect with the public. They are run by our PPIE team at UHS in collaboration with the Wessex Public Involvement Network (Wessex PIN).

Staff have shed light on the diverse and unexpected benefits of this approach in a new paper published in UCL Press.

Building relationships

Opportunities for public involvement were significantly reduced at the start of the pandemic.

In response, our PPIE team invited three hundred public contributors to the first researcher coffee morning in April 2020. They hoped it would help them build and maintain relationships with members of the public.

More than one hundred coffee mornings have taken place since, showcasing diverse health and care research across Wessex. They also promote opportunities to take part in research.

Over time, the new paper shows they have become a “safe, trusted space” for members of the public to influence and shape research.

There are also advantages for researchers who choose to take part.

“Research coffee mornings allowed me to develop my own meaningful and trusted relationships with public contributors, supporting future public involvement,” one researcher explained.

“Several people volunteered to work with me on my research programme, and this continues outside of the coffee mornings.”

Get involved

The virtual coffee mornings continue to go from strength to strength and are open to all.

They take place once a week, and consist of a presentation by a guest speaker and an interactive Q&A session. Recordings of past coffee mornings are available here.

If you would like to find out more, please email


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