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Using creative methods to encourage participatory research

Compiled by Stacey Atkinson, matron/manager inpatient services for people with learning disabilities and lead nurse, St Mary's Hospital, Leeds

Creative methods have been used to encourage participants with learning disabilities involvement in research. A total of 115 people who have learning disabilities were invited to attend an activity day, during which person-centred activities were used to gain an insight into the leisure pursuits people enjoy.

Two individuals with learning disabilities were taught research skills, and along with non-learning disabled researchers, they were asked to support a sample of ten men and women who have learning disabilities in taking photographs of the research activities they enjoy. They were then supported in grouping the activities under three headings: what I enjoy now, what I used to do enjoy, and activities Id like to try. Their results were then analysed.

The team found that people with learning disabilities advised on accessible research methods and communication generally, and helped build the confidence of other participants

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 Picture: Getty Images

Creative methods have been used to encourage participants with learning disabilities’ involvement in research. A total of 115 people who have learning disabilities were invited to attend an activity day, during which person-centred activities were used to gain an insight into the leisure pursuit’s people enjoy.

Two individuals with learning disabilities were taught research skills, and along with non-learning disabled researchers, they were asked to support a sample of ten men and women who have learning disabilities in taking photographs of the research activities they enjoy. They were then supported in grouping the activities under three headings: what I enjoy now, what I used to do enjoy, and activities I’d like to try. Their results were then analysed. 

The team found that people with learning disabilities advised on accessible research methods and communication generally, and helped build the confidence of other participants with learning disabilities.


Charnley H, Kwang Hwang S, Atkinson C et al (2016) National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement funded by the UK Higher Education Funding Councils, Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust

Compiled by Stacey Atkinson, matron/manager inpatient services for people with learning disabilities and lead nurse, St Mary's Hospital, Leeds

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