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Patient and public involvement (PPI) has gained widespread support in health research and health policy circles, but there is little consensus on the precise meaning or justifications of PPI. We argue that an important step towards clarifying the meaning and justification for PPI is to split apart the familiar acronym and draw a distinction between patient and public involvement. Specifically, we argue that patient involvement should refer to the practice of involving individuals in health research or policy on the basis of their experience with a particular condition, while public involvement should refer to the practice of involving individuals in health policy or research based on their status as members of a relevant population. Analyzing cases from the UK, Australia, and the USA, we show how our proposed distinction can deliver much needed clarity to conversations on PPI, while guiding the development and evaluation of future PPI-based policies.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





708 - 715


patient involvement, public engagement, public involvement, Health Policy, Health Services Research, Humans, Patient Participation, Policy Making, Stakeholder Participation