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Patient involvement increases public confidence in health research studies

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Ipsos MORI survey of 1,295 British adults has shown that public confidence in health research studies can be increased by knowing that patients have participated in advising on the design of the study.

Patient and public involvement in research has long been considered as an important element in ensuring more robust study designs, minimizing dropout rates and leading to more meaningful patient outcomes. Health researchers are often encouraged to involve patients and the public in the design of their studies, but some researchers may not have understood this. They may not have consistently communicated the benefits to potential participants in the recruitment process.

But this survey, commissioned by the Health Research Authority (HRA), shows 77% of adults surveyed said if they were made aware that a Research Ethics Committee had reviewed a health research study it would increase their confidence in the study.

Similarly, 44% of respondents said involving patients to ensure the information given to participants was easily understandable and meaningful would increase their confidence in the study. While 49% were not sure either way, very few said it would reduce their confidence.

The results suggest if health researchers communicate the fact that patients and the public have been involved in the design of their research when approaching potential study participants, it could help to boost recruitment. It also shows the importance of building awareness of the benefits of patient and public involvement in health research.

“The HRA survey is significant in pointing to the fact that potential participants in research draw encouragement from knowing their fellow citizens have been involved in its design,” said Simon Denegri, director of INVOLVE. “It adds to the growing body of evidence showing public involvement adds value to research. The essential message to funders is that if they make the effort to enlist the help of patients and the public, they will see returns in the quality of their research as well as in the effectiveness and efficiency of its delivery.”

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