It’s one of the hardest things they will have to do. It is physically and mentally draining. For many it will feel a lonely place. The atmosphere will be unlike anything they have ever experienced before. Some will feel as if they are in a state of suspended animation. Others will feel as if they have leapt off a cliff into the unknown. One thing is for sure: the world will never look the same again. And there is work to do, more often than not in the shadows.
Yes, today, tomorrow and for ever after, patients will be stepping into the unknown by contributing to research for the first time. As a volunteer on a clinical trial. By joining an advisory group to help researchers design their experiment. By reading research proposals…
Each will be spacewalking in their own way.
This week we learnt a bit more from NIHR CRN about how cancer patients feel about taking part in research. They want to benefit from new treatments. But they would also like more information about what it is they are testing. They also think they should get to hear about the results.
We learnt from healthtalkonline that for researchers public involvement can also feel like stepping into the unknown. Those who have done it, encourage their colleagues to learn from those who have, that they should not feel alone. Many talk about the motivation gained from working with those who will ultimately benefit from their work.
We also heard how industry and patients – for such a long time on different planets – may be beginning to occupy the same orbit if not come together. A EUPATI paper published in BMJ Open showed that lack of knowledge of one another is a barrier to closer collaboration and partnership. For many companies, public involvement does not land well with them because it feels too nebulous a concept.
A study of public involvement in primary care published in ‘Research Engagement and Involvement’ highlighted how the sustainability of public involvement was predicated on ‘organizational commitment and leadership, adequate resourcing and dedicated support infrastructure.’ Ground controllers to note.
Finally and fittingly, it seemed only right to mention this absorbing piece from Forbes magazine about David Bowie’s connections with science and medicine.
Well done Tim – you will have earned your rest this weekend.
To patients and the public everywhere who are stepping outside the capsule next week – and perhaps for the first time – good luck!