Monthly Archives: March 2011

Commercial clinical trials : How do we get health professionals interested?

(This is a guest post by Gemma Borland on behalf of the Heart of England Hub of the Mental Health Research Network)

drugs etc

Do your patient’s receive the best possible treatment? How do you know?

Every day in clinical practice medications are used, but do you know how these medications have been developed and would you want to be involved when the products of the future are being tested?
Pharmaceutical companies sponsor clinical trials to research new medications.  Potentially, these trials may lead to the  development of  more effective drugs.

The importance of this research cannot be underestimated, finding medications with fewer side effects, which are easier to take, impact less on someone’s life and manage someone’s condition better, can improve a service user’s quality of life dramatically. The need to continually strive towards the best treatments available in the NHS is paramount.

Equally important is the need for new medications to be tested in the NHS and on the UK’s patient populations.

Clinical research studies

Since I became involved in setting up clinical research studies 5 years ago, I have worked with dedicated clinicians and nurses, passionate about the importance of commercial research having seen the benefits that access to cutting edge treatments can bring to their patients. However, there is a real need to increase commercial trial activity within the NHS.

Industry trials are often seen as complex, with onerous Sponsor requirements and a lack of understanding as to what the work entails. For Health Professionals who have not yet been involved in commercial clinical trials, the work can seem a daunting avenue to pursue. This is the challenge facing the Mental Health Research Network, a national initiative to support mental health clinical research in the NHS.  We need to identify how we get individuals involved in commercial research and look at the issues which may prevent people working on commercial trials.

Mental Health research Network

The Heart of England Hub of the Mental Health Research Network is currently piloting a project to develop and run a mentoring programme, tailored at supporting nurses, clinicians and other professionals, working on commercial studies for the first time. The programme will provide an experienced mentor with whom study teams can access for advice and guidance whilst working on a commercial trial, as well as training and information to help people better understand commercial trial work.

With this additional support, we are hoping to expand the number of clinicians, nurses and other health professionals working on commercial studies in the Midlands, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of commercial trials running across the region.

We want your comments, i.e. what are your opinions on commercial clinicial trials, would you get involved? If not, why not?

http://www.mhrn.info/
For further information on the mentoring programme contact : gemmaborland@nhs.net

A confusion of words?

Confusion_of_Tongues
The tower of Babel (engraving by Gustav Dore)

I am fascinated by the use of words. Well, I should say that I am fascinated by how people use certain words to present a desirable image of themselves. An everyday example is the obvious one of politicians – you can see them deliberatel pausing several times in an interview to think carefully about what words utter from their mouths.
Rightly so. We all know how easily people can be insulted over a few words (ask Mr Clarkson from Top Gear about this) and so choosing our words is vital.

Using the wrong word can spell doom. I recently marked an assignment where a student ‘psycho-educated a patient on holidays abroad’. Yes this could be psycho education before someone comments but in the context of the essay it clearly was not. Put simply, if you do not know what a word means, then don’t use it as incorrect use sends a very clear signal of the level of your knowledge on the subject!

One phrase that irritates the hell out of me is ‘1:1 intervention’. I saw a football match the other week where the result was 1:1 so if a nurse says they had a 1:1, does this mean they played football? What is so wrong with saying ‘I spoke with…’ or heaven forbid whats wrong with saying ‘I chatted with…’? I am extremely proud that I have never conducted a 1:1 intervention with a patient but I am equally as proud that I have chatted with many over the years. I think that the meaning of ‘1:1 intervention’ has been lost/warped over time, this is evidenced by a student seeing me and explaining how they had a 1:1 with a patient and their family. I explained that one to one means a private chat between two people but this was lost on the poor soul because his mentor (a nurse in practice) had informed him that this work was indeed classed as a’1:1’.

We also ‘ob’ patients. The phrase ‘observe’ has been lost or to be precise the meaning has been lost. To ‘ob’ someone is simply to aimlessly follow someone around with the bizarre belief that this helps. What is wrong with chatting anyhow? Chatting with someone allows for the assessment of memory, orientation, delusional ideas, concentration, anxiety, paranoia – well the list goes on. It is the skilful nurse who uses these informal opportunities to gather information and to develop the greatest tool in a nurse’s armoury – the therapeutic relationship.

So why do we use these words? Well, I believe it comes to us as nurses losing our sense of self pride. What is wrong with saying I chatted with Fred? Answer – it simply doesn’t sound professionally credible. Are we scared that other health professionals may say ‘but talking isn’t really work that a professional does’ and so we disguise it by saying we conducted a 1:1 intervention? Perhaps those who are familiar with a previous post “Registered Nurse Plumber” may already know the direction that I am going.

Who do you want caring for you and your loved ones – the nurse who conducts 1:1 interventions with patients or the nurse who chats with you?