Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) Research Unit



The Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) Research Unit was established in the School of Medicine by Professor Anne MacFarlane, PhD. The Unit is designated as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Migrant’s Involvement in Health Research.

The work of the Unit draws on a variety of disciplines including general practice, allied therapies, sociology, anthropology, health promotion, biostatistics and music. We have strong collaborative partnerships with community organisations, other academics, health service planners and policy stakeholders in Ireland and abroad. We have generated a research income of 11 million euro since our inception in 2011.

Our work is based around a conceptual interest in ‘participatory spaces’.  We have specific, inter-related questions

1. What participatory practices support partnership building and working in qualitative and quantitative studies?
2. What is the ‘work’ required to implement partnerships as a routine way of working?
3. What is the evidence about how partnership working impacts on the process and outcome of research?

We explore these goals through studies about primary care services and population health with a specialist focus on the field of migrant health.

Listen to our podcast with Prof Anne MacFarlane 'Why involve public and patients in research'

Listen to our short video of Dr. Jon Salsberg talking about the value of PPI in research




Professor Anne MacFarlane, B.A., M.A., PhD.

Professor of Primary Healthcare Research, School of Medicine

Anne is founder and overall academic lead for the PPI Research Unit. She is the Director of WHO Collaborating Centre for Migrant’s Involvement in Health Research which is hosted in the Unit. She is a social scientist with more than 25 years’ experience using qualitative research methods in health services research. She has specialist expertise in participatory health research, particularly in relation to migrant health. Anne is Principal Investigator for a number of participatory health research projects (see our Research tab). She established and led PPI as a theme in the Health Research Institute (HRI) (2016-2019) to build capacity in the UL health research community for partnered research across topics and disciplines.

Anne is involved with international collaborations in Europe and North America to advance the evidence base about best practice for PPI and participatory health research. She is active in projects with WHO Europe, the International Collaboration for Participatory Health Research and the North American Primary Care Research Group. Her current research interests include the sociological concept of space and how this can enhance understanding of participatory spaces in health.

View full profile

Professor Ailish Hannigan, B.Sc., PhD.

Associate Professor of Biomedical Statistics, School of Medicine

Ailish is the lead for quantitative research in the PPI Research Unit. She is Principal Investigator for the Vulnerable New Communities project and leads the quantitative work package for HRB EMH-IC. She has over 20 years’ experience as a statistician and educator and acts as statistical consultant both nationally and internationally. Her research interests include population health, the design and analysis of cohort and registry studies, and the potential and challenges for PPI in quantitative health research.

View full profile


Dr Jon Salsberg, B.A., M.A., PhD.

Senior Lecturer in Primary Healthcare - Public and Patient Involvement, School of Medicine.

Jon has over 15 years of experience working in community and academic participatory health research and integrated knowledge translation. He is a qualitative researcher with a background in public health promotion and anthropology of development. Jon's research interests are in understanding the theory and practice of multi-stakeholder engagement for co-creating new knowledge and its translation into action, principally in primary care and community health. His recent focus has been in using a social network approach in understanding how community stakeholders take ownership over academic research.

Jon has undertaken partnered research with a broad range of stakeholders including patients, health practitioners, community members and organisations, policy makers and health service decision-makers, as well as working extensively in Indigenous health in Canada. He was a founding member of the Centre for Participatory Research at McGill University, and is an executive committee member of the International Collaboration for Participatory Health Research.

View full profile



Dr. Fran Garry, B.A., M.A., PhD. 


Fran Garry is a singer/songwriter, community musician, arts practice researcher and guest lecturer at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance where she completed her PhD research in 2018. Fran received an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship award for her research project, entitled: ‘Lived Experiences in Community Arts in Ireland-an autoethnographic and ethnographic, practice-based study’. She facilitates music/singing projects in educational and community settings, working with people of all ages. Fran holds an MA in Community Music from the Irish World Academy, (U.L.) and a BA in English Literature and History (U.L.). Her research interests include musical participation and wellbeing, community arts engagement, arts and cultural policy, and arts practice and arts-based research methods. She has published in journals such as Transform-New Voices in Community Music and The Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy. In 2019, she was appointed Senior Editor of Transform-New Voices in Community Music.


Jackie Grace

Administrator, PPI Research Unit.

Jackie has worked in UL for several years and rejoined the team in 2019. 


Dr Susann Huschke, M.A., PhD.
Postdoctoral researcher in Social Inclusion and Health (Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow)

Susann is an anthropologist who researches the interconnected fields of migration, health, and sexuality/gender. She is currently developing a research project on maternal health and migration in Ireland. In her PhD research, she investigated undocumented migrants’ access to healthcare in Berlin, Germany. As a postdoctoral research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast she led a team of researchers in a government funded study on the Northern Irish sex industry. Susann then spent two years at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, conducting a participatory arts-based project on the health and well-being of sex workers in Soweto. All her research projects incorporated critical, applied components, and Susann has worked in solidarity with grassroots movements and activist organisations such as the Medibuero Berlin, a non-governmental migrant rights organisation, and the Sex Worker Alliance Ireland (SWAI).


Úna McInerney, B.A., B.Mus., M.A.
Project Manager, Primary Healthcare Research

Úna joined UL in 2002 and has worked at the School of Medicine since 2014. She has many years experience leading projects and managing resources. She is also project manager for the WHO Collaborating Centre for Migrant’s Involvement in Health Research. Prior to her work at UL, she qualified as a music therapist at University of Bristol and worked in health and education settings in Ireland, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda/


Dr Vikram Niranjan, BDS, MSc DPH, DDPH (RCS,Eng), PhD.
Research Assistant PPI IGNITE project

Vikram is a public health specialist with his research focus on public patient involvement, cancer research, quality of life, mix method studies, health promotion programmes, health promoting schools, tobacco control and oral health. He achieved his doctorate with distinction and has well recognition as an academician and dentist. He has over 6 years teaching experience at dental school in India teaching and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students. He has been international speaker at international conferences and has several paper presentations at conferences. Along with international researchers across the globe, he has successfully conducted sub-plenary sessions at International conferences, had run career advices to public health researchers, hands on sessions and webinars. He is winner of “Outstanding Dentist of the Year -2016” in India by Famdent organisation for his excellent clinical and dental public health practice. Having strong interest in mix methods and qualitative research, he looks forward to international networking and collaboration with public health researchers. 

View full profile


PhD Candidates


Dr Jess Drinkwater, B.Sc., MBChB Medicine, MRCGP, MRes

UK National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Leeds

Jess Drinkwater is based in the University of Leeds, UK under the supervision of Prof Robbie Foy (primary supervisor, University of Leeds), Dr. Maureen Twiddy (University of Hull Leeds), David Meade (University of Leeds) and Prof Anne MacFarlane (UL). Her PhD is exploring participatory research to strengthen the role of patient and public involvement in general practice service improvement. Jess is a GP in Bradford and is interested in improving health systems, especially primary care, through evidence based policy by understanding how health policy and health systems are shaped by those that use them and work within them.


Meghan Gilfoyle, B.A.Sc., M.Sc.

School of Medicine GEMS 10 PhD Scholar

Meghan Guilfoyle is based in the School of Medicine in the University of Limerick under the supervision of Dr Jon Salsberg and co-supervisor Prof Anne MacFarlane. Her PhD is evaluating inter-organisational  collaboration for Public and Patient Involvement in Health Research.Meghan Guilfoyle is based in the School of Medicine in the University of Limerick under the supervision of Dr Jon Salsberg and co-supervisor Prof Anne MacFarlane. Her PhD is evaluating inter-organisational  collaboration for Public and Patient Involvement in Health Research. Her   previous academic and work experience has had a public health and health systems focus, with specific areas of expertise in cancer prevention and screening, epidemiology, statistical analysis of population health data, evidence-informed public health practice, and knowledge translation. Meghan has a keen interest in engaging public and patient groups in health research in a meaningful and respectful manner, specifically older adults. For instance, she has previously worked with entrepreneurs to identify how to best engage people with dementia in the design, testing, and commercialization of an information communication technology. As a Canadian researcher new to Ireland, Meghan looks forward to innovative research collaborations as well as networking opportunities within an international context.

Molly Manning

Molly Manning is based in the School of Allied Health, University of Limerick under the supervision of Prof. Sue Franklin (primary supervisor, UL), Prof. Anne Hickey (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin) Prof Anne MacFarlane (UL) and Dr. Rose Galvin (UL).


Research Projects

For publications relating to our projects, please see our Recent Publications section

PPI IGNITE (2018-2020)

Principal Investigator: Professor Anne MacFarlane, UL

Core Team: Imelda Doolin, Sinead O’Doherty, Stephen Gallagher, Jon Salsberg, Bernie Woods  (UL), Zoe Hughes (Care Alliance Ireland) Deborah Tannehill & Juan Carlos Azzopardi (Limerick City Community Development Project), Catherine Hand & Miriam McCarthy (University Hospital Limerick), Marguerite Clancy (HSE Primary Care CHO Area 3)

Partners: Michelle Gardner (Medical Research Charities group), Harriet Doig (MS Ireland), Sandra Galvin (NUI Galway), Dr Tina Cook (Northumbria University), Prof Jennie Popay (Lancaster University), Dr Derick Mitchell (Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry)

Funding: Health Research Board (HRB) €348,909

Project description: To build capacity among academics, members of the public/patients and health sector colleagues to work together in participatory health research projects. We are developing training, networking events and changes in policy in UL to support high quality research partnerships between academics, community and health sector stakeholders.

EMH-IC (2016-2019)

Ethnic Minority Health in Ireland - building the evidence base to address health inequities (EMH-IC)

Principal Investigator: Professor Anne MacFarlane, UL

Co-applicants: Professor Ailish Hannigan, UL; Dr Joseph Le Master, University of Kansas; Dr Maura Adshead, UL; Alphonse Basogomba, Intercultural and Diversity Education Center Ireland; Dr Fiona O'Reilly, UL

Funding: HRB Health Research Award €329,946

Project  description: This is a participatory health research project using mixed methods to build the evidence base about migrant’s and Traveller’s health status. Our community partner is Shannon Family Resource Centre (Co-ordinator Colette Bradley) and our health sector partner is the HSE National Social Inclusion Office (led by Diane Nurse)

Project Team: Dr Maria Roura, UL, Sharon McCarthy and Anna Papyan, Shannon Family Resource Centre. 

MIMS (2017-2019)

Migrants’ Involvement in the development of Migrant Sensitive Healthcare Systems (MIMS)

Collaborators: Professor Anne MacFarlane, UL; Professor Ailish Hannigan, UL; Dr Santino Severoni, WHO; Dr Soorej Jose, UL, Diane Nurse, HSE National Social Inclusion

Funding: HRI and HSE €80,000

Project aims:

1) to build networks with migrant organisations regarding health research

2) knowledge transfer from the EU RESTORE project

3) support WHO activities for evidence production and synthesis e.g. through the Health Evidence Network (HEN) reports.

See completed 2016 HEN report on the public health implications of the diversity of definitions for migrants here.

See work with HSE Working Group on developing a model for the implementation of trained interpreters in the Irish healthcare system here.

See  completed 2018 HEN report on strategies to address communication barriers experienced by refugees and migrants in health care settings across the WHO European Region here

Project Team: Dr Orla McGarry and Maria Manuela de Almeida Silva, UL.

Vulnerable New Communities (2018-2019)

Principal Investigator: Professor Ailish Hannigan, UL

Collaborators: UL - Professor Anne MacFarlane, Dr. Andrew O’Regan and HSE Social Inclusion CHO5 - Suzanne Nolan, Angela Joy

Funding: School of Medicine Strategic Research Fund and HSE Social Inclusion Office €50,000

Project aim: A UL/HSE collaboration researching needs and service development for refugees, asylum seekers and Roma communities

Project Team: Dr Orla McGarry, UL.

Partnership for Health Equity (2011-)

Collaborators: Professor Anne MacFarlane, UL; Dr. Patrick O’Donnell UL, Dr Austin O’Carroll, North Dublin City GP Training Programme; Diane Nurse, Tony Quilty, HSE Social Inclusion; Claire Collins, Irish College of General Practitioners

Project aim: The aim of the PHE is to improve access to primary healthcare for marginalised groups, including homeless persons, drug users, travellers, migrants and others. This is achieved through a range of research, education and dissemination activities.

RESTORE (2011-2015)

REsearch into implementation STtrategies to support patients of different ORigins and language background in a variety of European primary care settings

Principal Investigator: Professor Anne MacFarlane, UL

Co-applicants: Professor Kate O’Donnell and Professor Frances Mair, University of Glasgow; Professor Chris Dowrick, University of Liverpool; Professor Christos Lionis, University of Crete; Dr Maria van den Muijsenbergh and Evelyn van Weel-Baumgarten, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre; Dr Wolfgang Spiegel, Medical University of Vienna.

Funding: EU FP7 €2.9 million

Project aim: to improve healthcare for migrants in Europe. This was an implementation science project which is designed to prospectively investigate and support the implementation of guidance and training initiatives designed to support communication in cross-cultural consultations in primary care using a unique combination of Normalisation Process Theory and Participatory Learning and Action research. 
RESTORE website

Primary Care Reform in Ireland (2014-2017)

Primary Care Reform in Ireland: An analysis of top down and bottom up innovation

Principal investigator: Professor Anne MacFarlane, School of Medicine, UL

Co-applicants: Professor Walter Cullen, UCD; Dr Norelee Kennedy, Clinical Therapies, UL; Libby Kinneen, HSE; Professor Carl May, University of Southampton

Collaborators: Department of Health & Children; Sarah Jane Hennelly, Paul Partnership Ltd Limerick; Dr Ray O’Connor, Limerick; Brian Murphy, HSE; Mary Tinnelly, HSE; Professor Ailish Hannigan, UL

Researchers: Edel Tierney and Madeleine O'Sullivan

Funding: HRB Health Research Award €329,269

Project aim: An evaluation of the reform processes relating to the development of primary care teams as outlined in the 2001 Department of Health primary care strategy. This qualitative analysis, using Normalisation Process Theory (NPT), addressed the gap in knowledge about the reform of our primary care services. Policy Brief Interdisciplinary Team Working in Ireland: A New Direction 16 years on.

FUSION (2010-2014)

User Involvement in Primary Healthcare: Toward a framework for implementation.

Principal investigator: Professor Anne MacFarlane, UL

Co-applicants: Mary O’Reilly de Brún, NUI Galway; Rachel McEvoy, HSE

Collaborators: Tomas de Brun, NUI Galway; Professor Anne Rogers, University of Southampton; Katya Okonkwo, Galway Migrant Service

Researchers: Edel Tierney, Madeleine O’Sullivan

Funding: HRB Health Research Award €210,600

Project aim: To assess the impact of community participation in primary care from the perspectives of the key stakeholders involved. The project resulted in the publication of a Framework for Implementation of Community Participation in Primary Healthcare

PhD projects

UK National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Doctoral Research Fellow Jess Drinkwater is exploring Public and Patient Participation Groups in English General Practice

University of Limerick funded PhD candidate Patrick O’Donnell is exploring measurement and operationalisation of social exclusion in the context of health in Ireland.

WHO Collaborating Center for Migrant’s Involvement in Health Research

The centre's main goal is to build capacity for participatory health research to involve migrants in health decision-making. There is increasing attention to the involvement of the public and patients in health, and migrants are frequently excluded from participatory spaces that inform policy, service and research developments. Stakeholders need clear guidance to address this situation and access to appropriate tools and training materials. These will help to bridge the gap between the rhetoric and practice of migrants’ involvement in health decision-making because migrants’ voices will be connected with relevant dialogues and debates. This will lead to an increasing understanding of migrants’ needs, more responsive policies and greater health equity.

Image result for ul living bridge

The center has two main goals in the next four years (2019-2023): 

1) To develop guidance on the use of participatory health research, at the request of WHO, by identifying international principles and best practices for the meaningful involvement of migrants in a health research partnership

2) To support WHO to devise and pilot a participatory health research training course and manual to build capacity for the meaningful involvements of migrants and other key stakeholders in health research partnerships

Recent Publications


van den Muijsenbergh, M.E.T.C., LeMaster, J.W., Shahiri, P., Brouwer, M., Hussain, M., Dowrick, C., Papadakaki, M., Lionis, C. and MacFarlane A. (2020) ‘Participatory implementation research in the field of migrant health: Sustainable changes and ripple effects over time’, Health Expectations 23 306–317 available: https::// 

Hannigan, A., Villarroel, N., Roura, M., LeMaster, J.W., Basogomba, A., Bradley, C. and MacFarlane, A. (2020) ‘Ethnicity recording in health and social care data collections in Ireland: where and how is it measured and what is it used for?’, International Journal for Equity in Health 19, Article number:  2, available: 

Salsberg, J. and Elmusharaf K. (2020) ‘Using Social Network Analysis to Measure Community Ownership in Participatory Health Research.’ SAGE Research Methods Cases. available:. https::// 

Nguyen, T., Graham, I.D., Mrklas, K., Bowen, S., Cargo, M., Estabrooks. C., Kothari, A., Lavis, J., Macaulay, A.C., MacLeod, M.,  Phipps, D., Ramsden, V., Renfrew, M., Salsberg, J. and Wallerstein, N. (2020) ‘How does integrated knowledge translation (IKT) compare to other collaborative research approaches to generating and translating knowledge? Learning from experts in the field’, Health Research Policy and Systems. available: https:://  

Conneely, M., Boland, P., O'Neill, A., Byrne, D., Cronin, S., Quinn, D., Trépe, D., Leahy, S., Salsberg, J., and Galvin, R. (2020) ‘A protocol for the establishment and evaluation of an older adult stakeholder panel for health services research’ [version 1; peer review: 1 approved with reservations] HRB Open Research 3:1, available: https::// 



Loutfi, D., Andersson, N., Law, S., Kgakole, L., Salsberg, J., Haggerty, J. and Cockcroft, A. (2019) ‘Reaching marginalized young women for HIV prevention in Botswana: a pilot social network analysis’, Global Health Promotion, available: https:://  

Loutfi, D., Andersson, N., Law, S., Salsberg, J., Haggerty, J., Kgakole, L. and Cockcroft, A. (2019) ‘Can social network analysis help to include marginalised young women in structural support programmes in Botswana? A mixed methods study’, International Journal for Equity in Health 18, Article number: 12, available: https::// 

Tierney, E., Hannigan, A., Kinneen, L., May, C., O’Sullivan, M., King, R., Kennedy, N. and MacFarlane, A., (2019) ‘Interdisciplinary team working in the Irish primary healthcare system: Analysis of ‘invisible’bottom up innovations using Normalisation Process Theory’, Health Policy. 123 (11), 1083-1092, available: https::// 

Villarroel, N., Hannigan, A., Severoni, S., Puthoopparambil, S. and MacFarlane, A. (2019) ‘Migrant health research in the Republic of Ireland: a scoping review’, BMC Public Health, 19, 324, available:

Manning, M., MacFarlane A., Hickey, A. and Franklin, S. (2019)’ Perspectives of people with aphasia post-stroke towards personal recovery and living successfully: A systematic review and thematic synthesis, PLoS ONE, 14(3), e0214200, available:

MacFarlane, A. (2019) ‘The Helen Lester Memorial Lecture 2018:  The leper squint:  spaces for participation in primary health care’, British Journal of General Practice, 9; 69 (682): 255-256, available


McMenamin, R., Tierney, E. and MacFarlane, A. (2018)’ Using a participatory learning and action (PLA) research approach to involve people with aphasia as co-researchers in service evaluation: an analysis of co-researchers’ experiences’, Aphasiology, 32(1), 142-144, doi: 10.1080/02687038.2018.1486380

Hannigan, A. (2018) ‘Public and patient involvement in quantitative health research: A statistical perspective’, Health Expectations, 21(6), 939-943, available:

Harris, J., Cook, T., Gibbs, L., Oetzel, J., Salsberg, J., Shinn, C., Springett, J., Wallerstein, N. and Wright, M. (2018)‘Searching for the Impact of Participation in Health and Health Research: Challenges and Methods’, BioMed Research International, 2018, available:

Khayyat Kholghi, M., Bartlett, G., Phillips, M., Salsberg, J., McComber, A., MaCaulay, A.C. (2018) ‘Evaluating an Indigenous Health Education Program for Diabetes Prevention: using lessons learned through Community Talking Circles’, Family Practice, 35(1), 80–87, available:

Hannigan, A., Basogomba, A., LeMaster, J., Nurse, D., O’Reilly, F., Roura, M., Villarroel, N. and MacFarlane, A. (2018) ‘Ethnic Minority Health in Ireland—Co-creating knowledge (EMH-IC): a participatory health research protocol’ BMJ open, 8(10), p.e026335.

Hordijk, R., Hendrickx, K., Lanting, K., MacFarlane, A., Muntinga, M. and Suurmond, J. (2018) 'Defining a framework for medical teachers’ competencies to teach ethnic and cultural diversity: Results of a European Delphi study', Medical Teacher, 1-7, available:

Tierney, E., McEvoy, R., Hannigan, A. and  MacFarlane, A. (2018) ‘Implementing community participation via interdisciplinary teams in primary care: an Irish case study in practice’, Health Expectations, available:

O'Reilly-De Brún, M., De Brún, T., O'Donnell, C. A., Papadakaki, M., Saridaki, A., Lionis, C., Burns, N., Dowrick, C., Gravenhorst, K., Spiegel, W., Van Weel, C., Van Weel-Baumgarten, E., Van Den Muijsenbergh, M. and MacFarlane, A. (2018) ‘Material practices for meaningful engagement: An analysis of participatory learning and action research techniques for data generation and analysis in a health research partnership’, Health Expectations, 21, 159-170. doi: 10.1123/pes.2015-0081


De Brun, T., O'Reilly-De Brun, M., Van Weel-Baumgarten, E., Burns, N., Dowrick, C., Lionis, C., O'Donnell, C., Mair, F. S., Papadakaki, M., Saridaki, A., Spiegel, W., Van Weel, C., Van Den Muijsenbergh, M. and MacFarlane, A. (2017) ‘Using Participatory Learning & Action (PLA) research techniques for inter-stakeholder dialogue in primary healthcare: an analysis of stakeholders' experiences’, Research involvement and engagement, 3 (1), 28. doi: 10.1186/s40900-017-0077-8

O'Donnell, C. A., Mair, F. S., Dowrick, C., O’Reilly-De Brún, M., De Brún, T., Burns, N., Lionis, C., Saridaki, A., Papadakaki, M., Van Den Muijsenbergh, M., Van Weel-Baumgarten, E., Gravenhorst, K., Cooper, L., Princz, C., Teunissen, E., Van Den Driessen Mareeuw, F., Vlahadi, M., Spiegel, W. and MacFarlane, A. (2017) ‘Supporting the use of theory in cross-country health services research: a participatory qualitative approach using Normalisation Process Theory as an example’, BMJ Open, 7 (8). doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014289

Roura, M. (2017) ‘Unravelling migrants’ health paradoxes: a transdisciplinary research agenda’, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 71, 870.

MacFarlane, A., Galvin, R., O’Sullivan, M., McInerney, C., Meagher, E., Burke, D. and LeMaster, J.W. (2017) ‘Participatory methods for research prioritization in primary care: an analysis of the World Café approach in Ireland and the USA’, Family practice, 34(3), 278-284. doi:

Papadakaki, M., Lionis, C., Saridaki, A., Dowrick, C., de Brún, T., O'Reilly-de Brún, M., O'Donnell, C.A., Burns, N., van Weel-Baumgarten, E., van den Muijsenbergh, M., Spiegel, W. and MacFarlane, A. (2017) 'Exploring barriers to primary care for migrants in Greece in times of austerity: Perspectives of service providers', European Journal of General Practice, 23(1) 128 - 134. doi: 10.1080/13814788.2017.1307336

Teunissen, E., Gravenhorst, K., Dowrick, C., Van Weel-Baumgarten, E., Van den Driessen Mareeuw, F., de Brún, T., Burns, N., Lionis, C., Mair, F.S., O’Donnell, C., O’Reilly-de Brún, M., Papadakaki, M., Saridaki, A., Spiegel, W., Van Weel, C., Van den Muijsenbergh, M. and MacFarlane, A. (2017) 'Implementing guidelines and training initiatives to improve cross-cultural communication in primary care consultations: a qualitative participatory European study', Int J Equity Health, 16(1), 32. doi: 10.1186/s12939-017-0525-y


O’Donnell, P., Tierney, E., O’Carroll, A., Nurse, D. and MacFarlane, A. (2016) ‘Exploring levers and barriers to accessing primary care for marginalised groups and identifying their priorities for primary care provision: a participatory learning and action research study’, International Journal for Equity in Health, 15(1), 197. doi: 10.1186/s12939-016-0487-5

Tierney, E., O’Sullivan, M., Hickey, L., Hannigan, A., May, C., Cullen, W., Kennedy, N., Kineen, L. and MacFarlane, A. (2016) ‘Do primary care professionals agree about progress with implementation of primary care teams: results from a cross sectional study’, BMC Family Practice, 17(1), 163. doi: 10.1186/s12875-016-0541-9

Lionis, C., Papadakaki, M., Saridaki, A., Dowrick, C., O'Donnell, C. A., Mair, F. S., van den Muijsenbergh, M., Burns, N., de Brún, T., O’Reilly-de Brún, M., van Weel-Baumgarten, E., Spiegel, W. and MacFarlane, A. (2016) ‘Engaging migrants and other stakeholders to improve communication in cross-cultural consultation in primary care: a theoretically informed participatory study’, BMJ open, 6(7), e010822. DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010822

de Brún, T., O’Reilly-de Brún, M., O’Donnell, C. A. and MacFarlane, A. (2016) ‘Learning from doing: the case for combining normalisation process theory and participatory learning and action research methodology for primary healthcare implementation research’, BMC Health Services Research, 16(1), 346. DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1587

O'Donnell, C. A., Burns, N., Mair, F. S., Dowrick, C., Clissmann, C., van den Muijsenbergh, M., Weel-Baumgarten, E., Lionis, C., Papadakaki, M., Saridaki, A., de Brun, T. and MacFarlane, A. (2016) ‘Reducing the health care burden for marginalised migrants: The potential role for primary care in Europe’, Health Policy, 120(5), 495-508. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2016.03.012

O’Reilly-de Brún, M., de Brún, T., Okonkwo, E., Bonsenge-Bokanga, J.S., Silva, M.M.D.A., Ogbebor, F., Mierzejewska, A., Nnadi, L., van Weel-Baumgarten, E., van Weel, C. and van den Muijsenbergh, M. and MacFarlane, A. (2016) ‘Using Participatory Learning & Action research to access and engage with ‘hard to reach’migrants in primary healthcare research’, BMC health services research, 16(1), 25. DOI: 10.1186/s12913-015-1247-8

O’Donnell, P. & Lawson, E. (2016) ‘Managing physical health problems in people who inject drugs’, British Journal of General Practice, 66(642), 48-49.



O'Reilly, F., Barror, S., Hannigan, A., Scriver, S., Ruane, L., MacFarlane, A. and O'Carroll, A. (2015) Homelessness: An unhealthy state: Health status, risk behaviours and service utilisation among homeless people in two Irish cities Dublin: The Partnership for Health Equity.

Teunissen, E., Van Bavel, E., Van Den Driessen Mareeuw, F., MacFarlane, A., van Weel-Baumgarten, E., van den Muijsenbergh, M. and van Weel, C. (2015) ‘Mental health problems of undocumented migrants in the Netherlands: A qualitative exploration of recognition, recording, and treatment by general practitioners’, Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, 33(2), 82-90. doi: 10.3109/02813432.2015.1041830

O'Reilly-de Brún, M., MacFarlane, A., de Brún, T., Okonkwo, E., Bonsenge Bokanga, J. S., Manuela De Almeida Silva, M. and van Weel, C. (2015) ‘Involving migrants in the development of guidelines for communication in cross-cultural general practice consultations: a participatory learning and action research project’, BMJ Open, 5(9), e007092. doi: 10.1136

O’Sullivan, M., Cullen, W. and MacFarlane, A. (2015) ‘Primary care teams in Ireland: a qualitative mapping review of Irish grey and published literature’, Irish Journal of Medical Science, 184(1), 69-73. doi: 10.1007

McMenamin, R., Tierney, E. and MacFarlane, A. (2015) ‘Addressing the long term impacts of aphasia: How far does the Conversation Partner Programme go’, Aphasiology, 29(8), 889-913. doi: 10.1080/02687038

Mc Menamin, R., Tierney, E. and MacFarlane, A. (2015) ‘Who decides what criteria are important to consider in exploring the outcomes of conversation approaches? A participatory health research study’, Aphasiology, 29(8), 1-25. doi: 10.1080/02687038.2015.1006564

Hickey, L., Hannigan, A., O'Regan, A., Khalil, S., Meagher, D. and Cullen, W. (2015) ‘Psychological morbidity among young adults attending primary care: a retrospective study’, Early Intervention in Psychiatry. doi: 10.1111/eip.12284

de Brún, T., O’Reilly-de Brún, M., van Weel-Baumgarten, E., van Weel, C., Dowrick, C., Lionis, C. and MacFarlane, A. (2015) ‘Guidelines and training initiatives that support communication in cross-cultural primary-care settings: appraising their implementability using Normalization Process Theory’, Family Practice, 32, 420-425. doi: 10.1093


Tierney, E., McEvoy, R., O'Reilly‐de Brún, M., Brún, T., Okonkwo, E., Rooney, M. and MacFarlane, A. (2014) ‘A critical analysis of the implementation of service user involvement in primary are research and health service development using normalization process theory’, Health Expectations, 1(32). doi: 10.1111/hex.12237

McEvoy, R., Ballini, L., Maltoni, S., O'Donnell, C. A., Mair, F. S. and MacFarlane, A. (2014) ‘A qualitative systematic review of studies using the normalization process theory to research implementation processes’, Implementation Science, 9(1). doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-9-2

Mc Menamin, R., Mc Grath, M., Cantillon, P. and MacFarlane, A. (2014) ‘Training socially responsive health care graduates: Is service learning an effective educational approach’, Medical teacher, 36(4), 291-307. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2013.873118

MacFarlane, A., O'Reilly-De Brún, M., De Brún, T., Dowrick, C., O'Donnell, C., Mair, F. and Clissmann, C. (2014) ‘Healthcare for migrants, participatory health research and implementation science-better health policy and practice through inclusion. The RESTORE project’, European Journal of General Practice, 20(2), 148-152. doi: 10.3109/13814788.2013.868432

MacFarlane, A., and O'Donnell, C. (2014) ‘Who are we and where are we going? Primary care academics in non-clinical posts’, Primary Health Care Research & Development, 15(01), 96-103. doi: 10.1017/S1463423612000540

PPI News & Events

June 2020

The 5th PPI Summer School, led by Dr. Jon Salsberg, took place 25-26 June 2020. In response to COVID-19, this Summer School was held on-line. There were over 200 participants and excellent contributions from workshop facilitators and participants. 

April 2020

University of Kansas Medical School, Distingushed Bohan Visiting Speaker Programme award for Professor Anne MacFarlane. Prof. MacFarlane will present on the integration of participatory research approaches to patient involvement and Normalisation Process Theory to investigate and support implementation of evidence into practice.  

March 2020

We had a great presence at the ASM of the Association of University Department of General Practice, held in UCC, Cork on March 6th. There were a number of oral presentations and a workshop based on current research. 

Left to right: Pictured at the AUDGPI in March, Dr Jon Salsberg (Senior Lecturer in Primary Healthcare Research), Dr Vikram Niranjan (Research Assistant), Ms Meghan Guilfoyle (PhD candidate), Dr Raymond O'Connor (Senior Research Fellow, General Practice), Prof Anne MacFarlane (Chair of Primary Healthcare Research).  


February 2020

Welcome to Dr Garry who has joined the PPI Research Unit as Post-doctoral research for the HRI funded Particiaptory Arts based research for involving migrants in health research (PART-IM), which is led by Unit member Professor Helen Phelan, Irish World Academy of Music and Research.




November 2019

PhD candidate Meghan Gilfoyle and Dr. Jon Salsberg represented the PPI Research Unit at the 2019 North American Primary Care Research Group conference in Toronto, Canada.


August 2019

Congratulations to Dr. Edel Tierney who graduated with a PhD in August 2019. Edel’s research was about involving communities in Primary Care Teams.



Research Unit designated as WHO Collaborating Centre

The Public and Patient Involvement Research Unit is delighted to be designated as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Migrant’s Involvement in Health Research (2019-2023). The Centre will be led by Anne MacFarlane, Professor of Primary Healthcare Research at the School of Medicine. It will build capacity for meaningful involvement of migrants in health research partnerships, through the identification of international principles for best practice and the development of tailored training.


WHO seminar on Migrant and Refugee health

University of Limerick held the World Health Organization seminar on Monday 13th May, 2019 and presented the WHO Report on the Health of Refugees and Migrants in the WHO European Region. A programme for the event is below.



January 2019

Welcome to Dr Vikram Niranjan who has joined the PPI Research Unit as a Research Assistant on the PPI IGNITE project.
Vikram comes from a public health background and will be working with Dr Jon Salsberg on the PPI Ignite project on monitoring and evaluation.



November 2018

Report published by the World Health Organisation

School of Medicine staff members Dr Orla McGarry, Professor Ailish Hannigan and Professor Anne MacFarlane co-authored a report recently published by the World Health Organisation as part of the WHO Health Evidence Network (HEN) series. 

The report is based on a scoping review that examined strategies that have been implemented and evaluated to address communication barriers experienced by refugees and migrants in health care settings across the WHO European Region. 

The report was launched at the ministerial lunch at the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, Rome, 17–20 September 2018. Health Ministers and high-level representatives of the 53 member states of the WHO European Region as well as partner organizations and civil society attended the 68th session.

Health Research Board Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Scheme (KEDS) award

Prof Anne MacFarlane (PI) and Prof Ailish Hannigan (co-applicant) have been awarded €27,113 from the Health Research Board Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Scheme (KEDS) for a project titled ‘Collecting and using data about ethnicity in healthcare - a drama’



Dr Jon Salsberg - Oxford Journal's Family Practice 'Best paper - 2018' award

Dr Jon Salsberg’s paper "The shifting dynamics of social roles and project ownership over the lifecycle of a community-based participatory research project" has been selected by Oxford Journal's Family Practice and the Associate Editors as ‘Best paper – 2018’ based on impact, novelty and relevance to primary care research.  Jon was presented with the award at the North America Primary Care Research Group conference in Chicago on 11 November 2018.  


September 2018

Welcome to Dr Kieran Kennedy, Lecturer from NUI Galway School of Medicine who has joined us for a sabbatical from July 2018 to July 2019.  Kieran brings expertise on the forensic healthcare of children and adults who experience sexual violence.  His research seeks to improve the care available to migrants who experience sexual violence.





Older news and events