The National Health Institute constitution enshrines PPI’s central role to place patients at the NHS’s heart. The sexual health field presents unique challenges for PPI in the tension between current PPI practice versus the need for confidentiality/feelings of shame/stigma. However, there is little evidence around the goals, evaluation measures, or theoretical underpinnings of PPI.

Researchers carried out audits to improve current PPI practice in the sexual health field on PPI plans in both service and research sectors.

Eighteen local sexual health service contacts completed the audit through snowballing. Researchers refined the tool, and five research projects completed the audit from the Health Protection Research Unit in BloodBorne and Sexually Transmitted Infections.

The study concluded that audit tool responses evidenced a wide variability in practice. Issues included conflation of PPI work and qualitative research; limited ‘patient satisfaction’ approaches; lack of PPI goals; methodological reliance on ‘visible’ methods such as focus groups; lack of responsiveness around patient needs and inadequate resourcing of PPI work. Research specific issues included ‘late’ PPI and low lay summary validity.