The toolkit (pictured below) includes practical tips for researchers on how to maximise the impact of research findings to inform health and care service planning, policymaking and quality improvement efforts. 

It was co-produced with commissioners and researchers working with NIHR Mental Health Implementation Network (MHIN), a collaboration of service users, local communities, commissioners and health and care providers, that aims to drive national improvements in mental health care.  

Becca Randell, co-lead for the MHIN’s children and young people programme and an implementation manager at NIHR ARC Kent, Surrey and Sussex, who led the development of the toolkit, emphasises the importance of engaging commissioners throughout the research cycle, from research design through to dissemination and implementation. 

"As a commissioner for over 25 years, I know that research plays an imperative role in commissioning and can help inform transformation, improve quality and measure the impact of services," she says. 

This toolkit gives an overview of the commissioning cycle and provides researchers with practical strategies for effectively collaborating with commissioners so that evidence can inform key strategic decisions and enhance health and social care services

Becca Randell, MHIN co-lead for children and young people programme

Commissioning is the process of assessing the health and care needs of a population, and then planning, prioritising, purchasing and monitoring services to get the best health outcomes for the population. 

Top tips for researchers to engage with commissioners:

  1. Build relationships with your commissioning colleagues
  2. Engage commissioners in helping co-design the research questions
  3. Involve commissioners in research governance
  4. Offer to present to key strategic boards
  5. Understand the commissioning structures
  6. Develop practical toolkits or learning reviews
  7. Build in economic impact 
  8. Embed voices of lived experience
  9. Understand commissioning timescales
  10. Share research outputs and review evidence
  11. Consider identifying commissioners as key contributors to research
  12. Be ready to move quickly

Download the toolkit

To read the full list of tips and guidance, download the toolkit here.
Download MHIN-comm-tips-2024-final.pdf

Find out more

The resource was created by NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Kent Surrey and Sussex with support from NIHR ARC South London, as part of NIHR Mental Health Implementation Network (MHIN) programme. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.