Stoneygate Centre for Empathic Healthcare

Patient involvement

Over recent decades increasingly active roles have emerged for patients and carers in medical education.1 This is owing to a number of political and social drivers that have brought the patient voice to the fore of health and social care.2 Frameworks like the Spectrum of Involvement1 propose hierarchical levels of active patient involvement in medical education. At the highest levels of involvement, patients are involved as partners in curriculum development and delivery.1

A plethora of research shows that patient involvement in curriculum delivery enhances students’ empathy, communication skills and knowledge retention, and contributes to the development of a patient-centred professional identity.3-7

There is less evidence for patient involvement in medical curriculum development.6,7 This is despite calls by the World Health Organisation8 and the General Medical Council9 to involve patients in curriculum development. This limited evidence-base reflects the challenges of involving patients in medical education, including securing appropriate funding, navigating bureaucratic institutional policies, and importantly, understanding how to execute this level of involvement.10,11 A small number of studies show that patient involvement in curriculum development improves student’s patient-centredness and positive attitudes towards patients.12,13 Further work is needed to advance patient involvement, to explore the infrastructure needed to support patient involvement, and to explore its long-term impact 1,2,6,11,14

Our aim

At the Stoneygate Centre for Empathic Healthcare, our mission is to improve patients’ lives by pioneering a robust new approach to medical education and training that positions empathy at the heart of healthcare. The involvement of patients, carers, and people with lived experience of health and care in our work is therefore essential for ensuring that we achieve this mission. Our aim is to have world leading patient involvement in medical school curriculum development and delivery.

Curriculum development and delivery

Our empathic medical curriculum has been co-produced with patients and carers. Patient involvement also plays a key role in the delivery of this longitudinal empathic medical curriculum. For example, the patient voice is embedded throughout our communication and clinical skills training, and we are involving patients (and patient stories) in the teaching of pathophysiology.

National Patient Advisory Board

The Stoneygate Centre’s National Patient Advisory Board provides guidance on the Centre’s strategy, including current research, curricular, and external training activities. Board meetings take place on a quarterly basis and members are paid for their participation at an hourly rate in line with the University’s paygrade system.

The Board may be invited to engage in any of the following work:

  • Contribute to our strategy for involving patients, carers, and people with lived experience in all aspects of the medical curriculum.
  • Contribute to the broad strategy of the Stoneygate Centre for Empathic Healthcare (including research, teaching, and external training).
  • Co-produce empathic medical curriculum streams.
  • Review and/or co-author research papers.
  • Support grant/funding applications as reviewers or co-applicants.
  • Recruitment of new board members.

Board structure

Board Chair

  • Jennifer Bostock 

Centre PPI Lead

  • Dr Amber Bennett-Weston

Centre Director

  • Professor Jeremy Howick

Board values

  • Confidentiality and anonymity: Information shared and topics discussed during Board meetings will be shared only with agreement by the whole Board.
  • Respect: We respect the perspectives and opinions of others, are willing to listen to other’s views, and are careful when challenging each other.
  • Collaboration: We will work together in a way that values all contributions.
  • Communication: We will use plain language and strive for the accessibility of any communication to, and within, the National Patient Advisory Board.


The Stoneygate Centre for Empathic Healthcare works closely with the University of Leicester’s Patient and Carer Group.

Members of our National Patient Advisory Board feedback on our ongoing work to the Patient and Carer Group and share opportunities for involvement in research and education.


  1. Towle A, Bainbridge L, Godolphin W, Katz A, Kline C, Lown B, Madularu I, Solomon P, Thistlethwaite J. Active patient involvement in the education of health professionals. Medical education. 2010 Jan;44(1):64-74.
  2. Spencer J, Godolphin W, Karpenko N, Towle A. Can patients be teachers? Involving patients and service users in healthcare professional's education. 2011.
  3. Boshra M, Lee A, Kim I, Malek-Adamian E, Yau M, LaDonna KA. When patients teach students empathy: a systematic review of interventions for promoting medical student empathy. Canadian Medical Education Journal. 2022;13(6):46-56.
  4. Kline CC, Park SE, Godolphin WJ, Towle A. Professional identity formation: a role for patients as mentors. Academic Medicine. 2020 Sep 29;95(10):1578-86.
  5. Anderson ES, Ford J, Thorpe L. Perspectives on patients and carers in leading teaching roles in interprofessional education. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 2019 Mar 4;33(2):216-25.
  6. Gordon M, Gupta S, Thornton D, Reid M, Mallen E, Melling A. Patient/service user involvement in medical education: A best evidence medical education (BEME) systematic review: BEME Guide No. 58. Medical teacher. 2020 Jan 2;42(1):4-16.
  7. Dijk SW, Duijzer EJ, Wienold M. Role of active patient involvement in undergraduate medical education: a systematic review. BMJ open. 2020 Jul 1;10(7):e037217.
  8. Boelen C, Heck JE, World Health Organization. Defining and measuring the social accountability of medical schools. World Health Organization; 1995.
  9. General Medical Council. Promoting excellence: standards for medical education and training. London: General Medical Council; 2015.
  10. Basset T, Campbell P, Anderson J. Service user/survivor involvement in mental health training and education: Overcoming the barriers. Social Work Education. 2006 Jun 1;25(4):393-402.
  11. Khan T, Mosgrove F, Wass V. Unknown unknowns: can bringing patients’ lived experience of long term conditions into curriculum design help our future doctors offer more holistic, socially accountable care?. Education for Primary Care. 2021 Nov 2;32(6):322-5.
  12. Towle A, Godolphin W. Patients as educators: interprofessional learning for patient-centred care. Medical Teacher. 2013 Mar 1;35(3):219-25.
  13. Owen C, Reay RE. Consumers as tutors–legitimate teachers?. BMC Medical Education. 2004 Dec;4(1):1-8.
  14. Jha V, Quinton ND, Bekker HL, Roberts TE. Strategies and interventions for the involvement of real patients in medical education: a systematic review. Medical education. 2009 Jan;43(1):10-20.

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