Background Recruiting sufficient patients into studies is a perennial challenge for researchers. Increasing patient and carer awareness of local research activity promotes recruitment through normalising the experience of research participation.
Objectives To evaluate a programme promoting local research through a poster campaign in musculoskeletal clinic waiting areas. To measure differences in awareness of local research before and after the poster campaign.
Methods 8 posters were developed collaboratively by clinical staff, research staff and patient representatives for display in musculoskeletal clinic waiting areas in a large UK teaching hospital. Each poster briefly describes the findings and potential impact of a study carried out locally. A questionnaire measuring awareness of local research was given to consecutive patients and relatives/friends/carers (aged 16+) entering the clinics on 6 dates and times before and 6 months after introduction of the posters. Responses were analysed adjusting for age and gender using ordinal logistic regression, with the SAS JMP Statistical Visualization System.
Results The response rate was 92% (n=156/170). A majority of respondents were aged 50–69y (43%, n=56), with all other age groups (16–29, 30–49 and 70+) represented. 56% (n=88) of respondents were female and 74% (n=116) were patients. There were no significant differences in awareness of local research before and after the poster campaign (p>0.20 in all cases). 6 months after introduction of the posters, only 24% of people reported seeing the posters. There were, however, some differences in awareness of local research for those respondents who had seen the posters. This group were significantly more likely to agree with the statement 'Research is going on at this hospital to understand arthritis and develop new treatments' (p<0.001).
Conclusions The poster campaign failed to increase awareness of local research amongst people using musculoskeletal clinic waiting areas. This was despite significant input to design and content by patient research partners and high approval of final drafts by this group. Few people reported seeing the posters, which may be due to the high volume of competing posters on display. This concurs with existing data that people fail to see and be influenced by posters in clinic waiting areas (1). Those people who had seen the posters were significantly more aware of local research, which may be due to the impact of the poster. Another explanation is that people already aware of local research disproportionately noticed and remembered the posters. To increase the success of a research awareness campaign, tools should be developed and tested with their target audience (i.e. patients not aware of or involved in research) in addition to patients already actively involved.
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Acknowledgement This work was supported by Arthritis Research UK (20018) and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust and Newcastle University.
Disclosure of Interest None declared