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Case study: Dorset patient champion shares experience of health research

Graham helps to communicate the importance of health research

Graham Jackson is a Patient Research Ambassador at Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. In this role, he helps to spread the word about the importance of health research. Find out about his experience, his reasons for getting involved and how he's helping to develop the role.  

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience of health research

I have a science background with a PhD in Chemistry and worked for the Ministry of Defence as Head of Oceanographic Research. My medical knowledge, apart from my own patient experience, is limited, but I have participated in two NHS clinical trials. The first was an innovative approach to treat early-stage colorectal cancer the second was a trial to assess a pain relief drug when I had open heart surgery.

What motivated you to become a research champion?

Following an article in a local paper about becoming a research champion at Dorset County Hospital I thought this was an opportunity to put something back into the NHS after my excellent treatments and my interest in scientific research.

What activities have you been involved with as a research champion and what difference do you feel they make to others and to research?

I have been a research champion for 4 years and the role has evolved particularly since the COVID pandemic which has meant all meetings have been via a video link. My experience in reviewing research papers and delivering research strategies has helped me contribute to NHS research projects and advising on how they can be presented in plain or non-technical English. Of significant importance is being able to comment on the potential relevance and importance of the research to patients.

How has being a research champion benefited you and how have you been supported?

My main benefit is a clearer understanding of research being undertaken within the NHS and Dorset County Hospital and being able to contribute from a patient’s perspective. The research champions have been supported and encouraged by Dr Zoe Sheppard and her research team through, workshops and regular meetings, most recently on-line, to ensure the evolving role of a research champion is understood.

Find out more

In 2019, the work of Dorset County Hospital's research volunteers, known locally as Patient Research Ambassadors, was recognised at the CRN Wessex Awards. The group received the award for excellence in patient and public involvement and engagement in recognition of their work to promote the benefits of health and care research.

Find out more about research at Dorset County Hospital.

To find out more about how you can get involved in health research or become a Research Champion, please visit