Author: Katie Banister – University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom


  • Magaly Acaves Martin – University of Aberdeen
  • Gordon Fernie – University of Aberdeen
  • Beatriz Goulao – University of Aberdeen
  • Clare Robertson – University of Aberdeen
  • Samantha Wileman – University of Aberdeen

Storytelling is a creative and appealing tool to communicate science to the public. Research suggests narratives are easier to comprehend and more engaging than traditional scientific communication. The aim of our public engagement group is to use storytelling and narratives to develop activities communicating concepts related to Health Services Research.

We developed storytelling activities to communicate two of our research areas: clinical trials and evidence synthesis. We build stories centred on key characters, and the concepts we want to communicate, through brainstorming sessions. We adapt our activities for the audience and pilot activities as a group. We use props and visual and sound cues to enhance the activities. We evaluate and adapt our activities using engaging questions for our target audience – about the key message and their enjoyment. We used these methods to develop activities for local science festivals and at local schools, engaging with over 2,000 people.

Our activities all involved a narrative and historical or fictional characters. Scottish naval doctor James Lind who ran the first clinical trial for scurvy is one historical character. We re-enacted the scurvy trial with primary school pupils, including role play and singing. Science festival-goers approached our team of sailors for a clinical trial themed candy tasting which was our opener for discussions about health research. To explain evidence synthesis, we used Sherlock Holmes and a treasure hunt with school children and families. Using props, noises and visual cues creates curiosity in the public that can develop into a conversation between researchers and citizens.

Our visual presentation will showcase our methods of catering to different audiences and highlight our learning points. We have found this a successful first step in engaging the public in our research.

On behalf of HSRU public engagement group

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual presentation
Theme: Time

Author: Katie Banister – University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom


  • Katie Gillies – University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
  • Members of HSRU Public Partners Group – Public Representative Group, United Kingdom
  • Craig Ramsay – University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Our department focusses on research to improve health services. By maximising public engagement, we aim for more meaningful involvement in our research and better communication. This visual presentation, developed with members of the public, will highlight the transforming effect of public involvement in a research unit and our learning points.

We set up an independent group of public representatives, local to Aberdeen, facilitated by a dedicated co-ordinator for public engagement (KB). Our group gives a public perspective across the activities of the Research Unit. We discuss, and work to improve, the accessibility of research proposals, information for the public, results from research studies and public engagement events.

We work as a group, with meetings through the year, supplemented by email consultations. We value the face-to-face meetings, being part of a team and the insight of visiting the department to see researchers in their working environment. A bonus of the meeting format is the sharing of ideas and perspectives which is harder to facilitate by individual emails. Regular opportunities for feedback and evaluation contribute to a cycle of ongoing improvement in our communication.

Our visual presentation will focus on how we work and evaluate our collaboration with the public. It will be supplemented by a poster highlighting our lessons learned and impacts. Our group are extremely positive about the group dynamic and the research they contribute to. They have worked as a team to improve the accessibility of information for the public and feel they too have become advocates for ‘good research’. Within the research unit this has enhanced the way we engage with the public and provided opportunities to improve public understanding of research.

By linking involvement and engagement, we promote mutual sharing of ideas to improve the way we involve and communicate with the public about our research.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual presentation
Theme: Transformation