A survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network raises concerns that patients could be missing out on opportunities to take part in potentially beneficial clinical trials.
Only 21% of people surveyed were aware that carrying out research is a key activity for the National Health Service (NHS), yet 82% of people surveyed said it is important for the NHS to offer opportunities to take part in healthcare research. (Less than 7% of people surveyed said they would never take part in a clinical research study.)
These figures on consumer attitudes are in stark contrast to an earlier survey of healthcare professionals, carried out by Health Service Journal magazine last year, again on behalf of the NIHR Clinical Research Network. In this survey, 61% of healthcare respondents said that research was peripheral in their NHS Trust, with only 38% agreeing that research is embedded in planning and performance at board level.
"Research is core business for the NHS, so we need to encourage patients to be more demanding of their doctors and NHS institutions when it comes to offering the chance to take part in research activity,” said Dr. Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive, NIHR Clinical Research Network. “We also need to do everything we can to encourage a research culture at all levels in the NHS. It is high time that NHS Trust boards put research on their radar."
While surveys show that more work is required to build the profile of research activity in the NHS, there has been significant progress in recent years. The NIHR Clinical Research Network recruited more than half a million NHS patient volunteers into research studies last year, and this number continues to increase. The organization is also sponsoring an award for NHS Trusts who have made the most progress in embracing research at an institutional level.