This is the final post on Promotion within the EPIC model for emergent health researchers.
The first post on this component of the model explored why promoting research to service users is an important activity for any healthcare professional to engage in and the previous post provided some insights into how promoting research can contribute to the development of research skills and expertise. In this post attention turns to some of the specific activities you can engage in to promote research.
Increasing your understanding and awareness of what is happening within your organisation: A starting point for every emergent researcher should be to ensure that you are informed about the kinds of research being undertaken by your colleagues, including the medical teams you work with.
Find out what studies they may be involved in and how people find out about them currently, ask if they are looking to recruit participants and if this is something you can help with? Similarly contact your R&D department and increase your knowledge about the wider research activity within your organisation. If you are in a research active clinical environment there may well be research nurses working into your unit who will also be able to tell you about the studies they are involved in.
Don’t worry that your knowledge about research is limited, the participant information sheets have to be written in plain English to enable potential participants to understand clearly what would be required if they were to take part in the study. Therefore you will be able to understand them as well.
Don’t worry either about needing to explain the detail of studies to potential participants, this is not what you are being asked to do. The participant information sheets give contact details for anyone wanting to find out more information.
Explore national campaigns: Alongside research being undertaken within your organisation there are also examples of national campaigns such as Join Dementia Research developed by National Institute for Health Research in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society. This campaign enables people with dementia, their carers and anyone over the age of 18 without dementia to register their interest in participating in dementia research and to be matched to suitable studies. It is in effect a national database for matching people interested in participating in dementia research with researchers seeking participants. So far over 13,000 people have registered their interest but the campaign is wanting to involve as many people as possible.
Increase your understanding of the perspectives, motivation and experiences of people who have taken part in research. Health Talk has a series focused on taking part in medical research and provides different perspectives of what its like to be involved in research.
Another excellent resource to explore is the NIHR Clinical Research Networks’ series Research Changed My Life which currently contains 18 short films and video diaries from people whose lives have been transformed by clinical research.
Alongside this learn about the Patient Research Ambassador Initiative from NIHR. Patient research ambassadors may, if they have experience of a specific condition, work with a particular clinical department or, if not, work in a more general way within on organisation to gain an overview of how it makes its research available to potential participants. If you are working in the NHS in England find out if your Trust has a Patient Research Ambassador.
Increase the visibility of opportunities to take part in research within your working environment. If a secret shopper were to visit your department would they know, by looking around, that opportunities for research might exist. Where does such information show up on your notice boards or displays. What kind of information is available to them and in what formats? Is this something you could work on with colleagues?
Mark International Clinical Trials day in your calendar. International Clinical Trials Day is on or near the 20 May each year, the exact date for 2016 isn’t yet available, but around that time why not find out what your Trust R&D department are doing to celebrate the day. The day seeks to raise awareness of the importance of research to health care highlighting how partnerships between patients and healthcare practitioners are vital to high-quality, relevant research.
Better still why not plan an event yourself. It doesn’t have to be a massive event, it could be a set time that you have information available to colleagues and patients focused around the It’s OK to Ask Campaign or you might suggest a lunchtime speaker in the department.
These are just some ideas of the kinds of activities you can undertake to develop your expertise in promoting research but the most important thing of all is to realise the potential you have to make a difference to people’s lives and improved health outcomes if you see an essential aspect of your role as being to ensure that you inform as many people as possible about opportunities open to them to take part in research.