Experiences of clinical trials

During the CLAHRC event “Making it Real – Patients and public improving healthcare research”,Leicester,  one of the sessions I attended was delivered by a patient who had extensive involvement within various clinical trials over the past few years.  He was a great example of how health research, once recognised as an invaluable part of the improvement of treatment pathways for illnesses, can attract a greater number of patient participants. For him the trials were not separate from his current clinical treatment, but instead were directly related to revealing ways of making that treatment better.  Barriers he observed to research participation included poor advertising and the scientific terminology used to describe the research aims, objectives and patient requirements . These were two of many observations flagged up as impeding access to trial information for patients. Present in the audience were health researchers and healthcare professionals involved in research and so one would hope that hearing the comments on potential improvements from a participant’s point of view may influence their methods of recruitment in future.

Patient involvement in research is ever-increasing, further embedding itself into standard research practice here in the UK which is great to see. The UK Clinical Trials Gateway and the national advisory group INVOLVE are among those that provide resources and information that help to keep patient & public involvement high on the health research agenda.  By involving the patients and the public, clinical research will hopefully continue to democratise, increasing the amount of accountability of the researchers by allowing transparency throughout the research process. Overall this will pave the way to  better research practice on the one hand, and increase public awareness and confidence in research on the other. I think that striving to do so may be a good way of increasing patient involvement within clinical trials.

Safer hospital Care

I attended a seminar today by Prof.Mary Dixon-Woods entitled “What do we know about how to improve quality and safety in hospitals, and what do we still need to learn?”Prof. Dixon-Woods talked about ways of avoiding preventable minor disasters resulting in fatalities within hospitals. One suggestion was the standardisation of hospital medical equipment was suggested to minimise errors in their usage. It all came down to the triage between intelligence (the investigation into the quality and safety, and the ways to improve the two), hospital systems and the culture and behaviour within hospital care. I think that changing the culture and behaviour within a healthcare environment is the foundation for any improvement in the quality and safety of care.   Intelligence alone isn’t helpful if the attitude to implement positive change is lacking among staff on different levels.  But it is difficult and definitely something that will not happen over a short time-span. There’s a piece by Prof. Dixon-Woods and others further discussing the topic called “Overcoming challenges to improving quality” and I’ve linked to the summarised version from the Health Foundation.