Levels of user involvement/partnership[1]

Engage – Invite users to give views

Co-design – Plan and design information together

Co-produce – Plan, design, create and review information with users as equal members of the team


Involve users in a meaningful way. Embrace the process – it’s easier than you think. Starting small is better than not involving users at all.


Plan engagement

  • Plan user involvement throughout your project
  • Describe users’ roles and responsibilities
  • Ensure users match your audience – include those with lower health literacy[2] and disadvantaged people[3]
  • Include budget to pay people for their time[4], but be aware of the impact on Universal Credit payments[5]
  • Consider safe guarding[6]


Use the right method for the task/stage

  • Steering groups
  • Focus groups
  • Engagement events and development workshops
  • Surveys and interviews


Run sessions effectively

  • Use plain language in all materials
  • Choose an independent facilitator who understands the user group
  • Run sessions in familiar, accessible settings[7]
  • Set objectives for each engagement
  • Be flexible, new issues may emerge
  • Thank users and show how you have acted on their insights


Co-produce health information whenever you can.


User testing/feedback

  • Test with users not involved in the development
  • Invite feedback on live projects


Work with users – make health information easy to use, accessible and relevant.



  1. https://pifonline.org.uk/resources/how-to-guides/involving-users
  2. https://library.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2023/06/Health-Literacy-Toolkit.pdf
  3. https://pifonline.org.uk/resources/posters/health-literacy-matters-infographic
  4. https://www.nice.org.uk/get-involved/our-committees/what-lay-members-do/lay-member-payments-and-expenses
  5. https://www.nice.org.uk/get-involved/our-committees/what-lay-members-do/lay-member-payments-and-expenses/how-lay-member-payments-affect-benefits
  6. https://assets-global.website-files.com/5ffee76a01a63b6b7213780c/651411b1bac81e3451940a0a_Co-Production%20Collective%20Safeguarding%20Statement%20.pdf
  7. https://www.england.nhs.uk/about/equality/equality-hub/patient-equalities-programme/equality-frameworks-and-information-standards/accessibleinfo/


Published by the Patient Information Forum October 2023. Review date: October 2025.


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Co-production matters step up levels of user involvement

Co-production matters


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