A dialogue on Animals Containing Human Material
The aim was to engage members of the public in dialogue on current and future issues related to the use of animals containing human material.
The objectives were to:
- Provide opportunities for members of the public to discuss and explore their aspirations and concerns about current and future issues related to the use of animals containing human material
- Identify areas of consensus, disagreement or uncertainty on a broad range of issues raised by current and possible future developments and explore both initial views and changes in opinion
- Inform the final conclusions and recommendations made by the Academy for public policy and research needs
- Enable the Academy and wider science community to build on previous experience in public dialogue, and to develop knowledge and understanding of public dialogue.
Summary of activity:
Public workshops x2 in London and Newcastle (~20 participants), three focus groups with patients, those with strong animal welfare views, and those for whom faith was an important influence on their lifestyle, 20 follow-up interviews with participants and a survey of 1000 members of the public.
What went well:
The dialogue was well timed to be influential to policy.
The dialogue was part of a wider study into the use of animals containing human material in research which gave it a clear purpose and route to decision-making.
The wide variety of research methods employed by the contractors (specifically the combination of the survey and public workshops)brought confidence in the findings through triangulation and also allowed stakeholders to see the value and limitations of the different types of evidence.
The range of ways in which the science was communicated was excellent, and this was frequently commented on by participants who felt that the material was accessible but never patronising which allowed them to make informed contributions to discussions.
What was learned:
Dialogue is an intense process that requires a great deal of time and commitment from all involved.
Being as realistic as possible in allocating this time will help ensure the process runs smoothly and delivers a credible outcome.
Make sure the expert scientists are clearly briefed and are given direction from the facilitator about their role.
A background reading list, FAQs and tips about communicating to the public are helpful.
Ensure that the purpose of the dialogue is effectively explained to all participants.
Public participants were very interested in the structure of the dialogue but could not confidently explain its purpose.
Clear facilitation is also important to ensure the participants stick to the topic.