Using pop-up research - Case Study

Using pop-up research - Case Study

Using pop-up research in Midlothian

Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership aimed to transform traditional models of care to enable the increasing numbers of people living with frailty to achieve their best possible quality of life.

The objectives

Our DHI partners designed a pop-up engagement as part of the user research. The plan was to pop-up in selected locations across Midlothian where there were likely to be a high number of older people, although anyone could take part.

The aim of the engagement was to start a conversation about ageing well, to understand:

  • What language should we use to engage people in services that can keep them well?
  • How do you engage people in self-management to encourage a preventative approach to frailty?

Running alongside the pop up element, we had planned to do face to face interviews, using cork boards to map peoples’ circle of care. When lockdown restrictions were implemented, we had to adapt our approach for these activities.

What and How

The pop-up design was highly visual, engaging and interactive.

The original design:
Pop up boards designed as a trellis were populated with paper flowers. A recorder was attached to the center of the flower. This would enable researchers to capture both recorded and written contributions.


Information can be captured in two stages:


Participants were to speak into the flower button to record their answer to the first question:

  • What’s the best thing about getting older?


The facilitator would then write answers to the follow up questions on leaves and attach them to the trellis with their flower.

  • How do you keep well?
  • How can we support positive experiences of getting older?


Adapting the plan

In March 2020, Scotland went into lockdown. The original pop-up concept could not be implemented. The flower/trellis boards were redesigned as cards. The British Red Cross delivered 120 cards when delivering support parcels during the lockdown. Although only a small number of returns were received (17 posted, plus 8 returns via the website), the responses were valuable contributions for developing the programme’s ‘how might we’ statements.


Greeting card poster and webpage

We created an online submission form as an alternative to writing on the greeting cards. A link to the webpage was shared on social media, and a poster was prepared for use at flu clinics. It was not possible to hand out greeting cards at the flu clinics due to infection control issues.


Hints and Tips

  • Consider your research or engagement question – pop-up research benefits from questions that people find engaging but not too difficult to answer.
  • Visually appealing designs are likely to get attention.
  • When designing for pop-up research, consider ethics and consent. This is particularly important if you are planning to record, film or take photographs. Be sure that you have accessible information sheets about your project available – postcards with a project explanation and data protection information are one option to consider.
  • Pop up research is about going to where people are – but consider who you are likely to encounter or who is likely to participate in these spaces. What will you need to do to reach those who are less likely to be heard?
Last Updated: 23 February 2024