Why set priorities for research; and why include patients and clinicians?
Good research takes time and money. This is best spent where the need for more understanding is greatest. Such a need may arise because:
- new technologies are developed and little is known about their effects
- knowledge is already well advanced, but knowing a little more might have important impacts on health
- studies are readily available, but have not taken into account issues that are important to patients and clinicians
- considerable research has been conducted, but the total knowledge is unclear because isolated studies need considering together
Unfortunately some research has limited use for either patients or clinicians. For example, the ‘new technologies’ for osteoarthritis of the knee of interest to patients, general practitioners, physiotherapists and rheumatologists were not the drugs that were attracting most attention from clinical trials; there was greater interest in knee replacement and education
. Similarly, cancer patients favour research about the management of practical, social, and emotional issues over investigating the biology or treatment of cancer.
Focusing research where it will be most useful requires finding out what patients and clinicians want to know from research, and which of their requests for research are most important and urgent.
Patients and clinicians have ideas about which new technologies they would like to be fully tested, which current treatments warrant further testing, and which criteria they would use to judge success or failure.
Research by INVOLVE
, Exploring Impact: Public involvement in NHS, public health and social care research,
found that patient involvement
in clinical research is of particular value in ensuring acceptability of trials, and that participants feel them to be ethical, well-designed and have relevant outcome measures. It also found that public involvement was reported to help increase recruitment to all types of research and was reported to be of value in qualitative research.
1 (Tallon D, Chard J, Dieppe P (2000). Relation between agendas of the research community and the research consumer. Lancet 355:2037-40.)
2 (Corner J, Wright D, Hopkinson J, Gunaratnam Y, McDonald JW, Foster C (2007). The research priorities of patients attending UK cancer treatment centres: findings from a modified nominal group study. Br J Cancer 96:875–881.)