NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

Addressing Health Inequalities – Widening participation to shape musculoskeletal research

Manchester BRC is committed to supporting people from all backgrounds to participate in research. We know that, nationally, people participating and helping to shape clinical research are often white, female and aged over 60, which can make research un-representative and exacerbate health inequalities.

Ensuring that people from under-represented groups have a voice in shaping research is vital in helping to recruit people from different backgrounds. It also helps to make sure new care and treatments work for everyone, not just a particular group of people.

Addressing Health Inequalities Case Study - The Musculoskeletal Research User Network

Watch the video version of this case study.

The project:

In collaboration with Vocal – which connects people, communities and researchers to improve health research – the Musculoskeletal (MSK) Research User Network is a group of people with experience of MSK conditions, who share their views to help shape pioneering research across the BRC’s Musculoskeletal Theme and beyond.

Building on the work of the previous Research User Group, the Network was launched in 2021 and recruited several new members representing a wider range of conditions, age ranges, and ethnic backgrounds. This means the voices shaping our research are more representative and inclusive of our Greater Manchester population and patients with MSK conditions.

A researcher perspective:

Patients are at the heart of our research. Musculoskeletal conditions affect the daily lives of millions of people in the UK, and our research aims to improve their disease management and quality of life. It’s incredibly important for the patient voices that guide the direction of, and shape, our research to be representative of those who are affected by the diseases that we study.

Dr Andrea Murray

Co-Academic Lead for Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement, NIHR Manchester BRC Musculoskeletal Theme

A participant perspective:

We need more people from all different backgrounds involved in musculoskeletal research. By sharing more perspectives, especially from those seldom heard, I hope no one will feel alone anymore, and we can all work together to produce research that is responsive to many more people's wishes and desires.

Emily Lam,
Public Contributor and member of the MSK Research User Network