Skip to main content

Case study: Dr Grace McCutchan

Grace showcasing her research to members of the public
Grace showcasing her research to members of the public.

Grace is interested in why people from deprived communities might put off going to the GP with symptoms of cancer and how we can encourage people to visit their GP quickly with symptoms.


Grace’s research aims to develop ways to encourage people to go to their GP quickly with symptoms of cancer.

We know that people who live in deprived communities may put off going to the GP with a symptom of cancer, so they get diagnosed at a late stage where the chances of a surviving cancer are reduced.


Key ‘publics’

Public (adults; young people and children; festival goers).

Types of engagement

To inform and educate the public in the latest psychosocial research in cancer prevention and early diagnosis.

As part of the Tenovus Cancer Care Research team, Grace spent four days in Einstein’s science Garden at the Green Man Festival, inviting festival goers to come and have a ‘cheeky cell-fie’ taken inside a converted mobile laboratory ice cream van.

Grace enjoys participating in Cancer Research UK Open Days interactively showcasing the latest cancer related research taking place at the University, utilising games such as the Facts, Myths and Legends game to effectively engage in conversations about the research, and dispel myths about cancer.

“Involving the public in research can offer another perspective and is invaluable. Don’t just make it a tick box exercise."

Dr Grace McCutchan


Key ‘publics’

Members of the public who would like to be involved in the design and conduct of research.

Types of involvement

Two lay representatives as part of the study team for the Lung Symptom Awareness and Health (LUSH) study. Involvement of two lay ‘Research Partners’ in the ‘Community theme’ of the Wales Cancer Research Centre.

For the LUSH study, Grace has recruited two members of the public as lay representatives for the study. They have played a key role and active part in the whole lifecycle of the study including the development of study materials, recruitment procedures, interpretation of findings, intervention development, and input to lay summaries, conference presentations and academic papers.

The two lay Research Partners in the Community theme of the Wales Cancer Research Centre Community theme have offered input and support for studies in the department.


Grace feels that is important to host talks and events to inform the public of ongoing research, particularly when the research is funded by a Charity so that people know the outcome of research that was funded by their donations.

With respect to public involvement with research, Grace believes that lay contributions are invaluable.

“Recently, a lay representative played a key role in the development of a community based cancer awareness intervention. She helped with the formatting, wording, re-framing of the tasks in the intervention, and had some really useful suggestions on how to conduct the session. I was so grateful for her help and advice.”

“Being able to communicate research in an acceptable and interesting way to a non-academic audience has made me think differently about how to present my research and has improved my presentation skills.”

Dr Grace McCutchan

Professional development

Apart from the professional benefits associated with engaging and informing the public of her research, Grace feels that her communication and presentation skills have improved as a result of her engagement work.

“Being able to communicate research in an acceptable and interesting way to a non-academic audience has made me think differently about how to present my research and has improved my presentation skills.”


Grace feels that she has a clearer idea of the needs of the public through engagement and involvement activity.

“People are generally really interested in research but often don’t know how to find out about ongoing and completed research, so engagement events are really important. In terms of involvement, there are lots barriers to getting involved in research so we need to think of ways to increase access to public involvement in research.”

This is a shortened version of the full case study.

Read the full case study

Dr Grace McCutchan - public engagement case study

View Dr Grace McCutchan's public engagement case study.

Contact Grace about her experiences

Dr Grace McCutchan

Dr Grace McCutchan

Research Fellow

+44 (0)29 2068 7639