Public Engagement

Public engagement for the IPCDR involves generating conversations about cardiovascular research and related medical science. These conversations can take place in situations and locations that are novel and even surprising. However, they all have the overall aim of encouraging and increasing dialogue about CVD between doctors, scientists and the general public.

How we Engage with Public

Cardiovascular health is vitally important for everyone. In light of this, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to explore, debate and influence both heart disease research and related medical science. This is why we encourage informed and inclusive conversations about cardiovascular disease studies and the relevant science. It is through these conversations that great ideas are formulated, shaped and shared, and thus everyone can play a role in helping to improve cardiovascular health amongst the general public.

Overall, public engagement activities are very useful and add value to the IPCDR, in that they are directly beneficial to the project research. The various public engagement activities connected with the project include festivals, media events and TV talk shows. They also include dialogue and focus groups with the public and wider stakeholders, to ensure that the research informs changes in policy and practice related to cardiovascular health. In addition, researchers on the project have been receiving training to help strengthen their capacity to communicate and engage with the public. Essentially, public engagement activities help to foster a society in which research for the project can flourish.

Working With Media

We aimed to create a number of short films and written feature stories that communicate how heart disease is experienced and understood by individuals and their families in various Russian regions. We envisaged that these films and stories could become focus points to stimulate a wider discussion in Russian communities as to both the human and scientific challenges of heart disease.

In furtherance of this aim, separate workshops titled ‘From the Bottom of My Heart’ were organised for documentary filmmakers and journalists in two Russian cities. As a result of these workshops, the participants filmed eight short films, each of which focused on an interesting real-life story involving cardiovascular health. The participants also published more than 40 articles on the subject.

The production of these films and stories involved a crucial element of public engagement. This public engagement came through the initial focus group work with participants from our main research project, as well as from the training of filmmakers and journalists on the subject.

TV Projects

A TV talk show titled ‘Know Your Heart’ was aired on the ‘Russia 24’ channel in Arkhangelsk in October 2016.
The panel of experts on this ‘Know Your Heart’ talk show was comprised of both doctors and scientists. It included representatives from the North-West Federal Medical Research Centre and the Institute of Philosophy and Law (the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences). It also included representatives from the ‘Know Your Heart’ project that is being led by the Northern State Medical University.

The doctors and scientists on the panel discussed their various CVD research findings on the show. They discussed their findings with the aim of helping to educate people in the north west region of Russia as to how CVD affects people’s lives.

The panel members also explained why it is vital to continue studying СVDs. By now, the risk factors for CVD are both well established and well known generally. However, despite this fact, and even though CVDs have been studied for many years, there is still no definitive explanation as to why the CVD mortality rates in Russia are so high.

Another TV program was broadcasted in Samara city as a part of the series “Quality of life” TV talk shows to discuss the trust to doctors and to health care system in general and how to build up the dialogue between patient and doctor in order to achieve better prevention and treatment and build up the trust. The following questions have been discussed with audience and scientists on TV programs:

– Why do scientists carry out the research on cardiovascular disease?
– What questions are they trying to answer?
– Why do scientists want to engage the public to the research of cardiovascular disease in Russia?
– What do citizens think about the cardiovascular disease research and why do they think mortality rate is so high in Russia from CVD
– Why do people not trust doctors but they do trust media when it comes to their health?
– What do people believe about what makes them healthy?

Focus Groups

In order to gain an understanding of the views of health professionals on CVD, a number of sociologists working on the IPCDR conducted focus groups with various doctors, representatives of public authorities and MPs. The same topics were discussed with separate focus groups, some of which consisted of people with CVD and others consisting of people who were both free from CVD and healthy overall.

All of these focus groups explored and discussed people’s opinions about medical research related to CVD. They also discussed the various sources from which people usually receive information about CVD.

In addition, focus group participants shared their opinions on the reasons behind the growth of CVD in Russia. Finally, they talked about possible methods for reducing CVD mortality in Russia.