The National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) has launched a resource pack for NHS Trusts as part of its efforts to maximise local opportunities for patients to engage in clinical research.

The downloadable “We do research” pack comes on the heels of a ‘mystery shopper’ investigation commissioned recently by NIHR CRN, which found that far too few National Health Service Trusts in England were providing easy access to information on clinical-research opportunities.

The new pack explains to Trusts how they can access consumer-friendly booklets that will help patients understand the role played by clinical research in developing better treatments and answer common questions about participating in a clinical study.  

There are also materials Trusts can customise, so that front-line staff will be better equipped to point patients who enquire about research in the right direction, be that the appropriate contact at the Trust or an information source.

Onus on clinicians

As things stand, the onus is on clinicians to raise with their patients the possibility of taking part in a clinical study, NIHR CRN noted. 

“Whilst this approach has proved very successful – with the annual number of patients taking part in clinical studies doubling over the past five years – the Clinical Research Network believes that it is also important to empower patients to ask questions about research opportunities that might benefit themselves and others,” it added.

Mystery shopper findings

Among the findings of the ‘mystery shopper’ investigation, which involved 82 hospital sites across 40 NHS Trusts in England, were that 91% of the sites did not have information on clinical-research opportunities available in the obvious places where patients would expect to find it.

Only 34% provided information about clinical research on their websites that was useful to patients. Moreover, 46% of reception desks at the sites visited told the mystery shopper that they did not do research, or failed to offer any suggestions on what to do next.