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Research a hit in North Thames in 2020/21

A graphic showing faces to illustrate the PRES results.

The results are in – and people love taking part in research in North Thames!

A fantastic 95% of adults said they would take part in research again, while 94% of children and young people up to the age of 15 said they would also be part of a research project again given the opportunity.

Almost all adults (98%) said that NHS research staff treated them with courtesy and respect, while 95% of children under 7 said that they found the research materials easy to understand.

The statistics come from the 2020/21 Participant in Research Experience Survey (PRES), an annual survey of research participants coordinated by Christine Menzies, Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Manager at CRN North Thames.

More than 2,300 adults took part in the survey in 2020/21, while more than 80 children and young people responded.

Barts Health NHS Trust collected 284 responses in total, the highest number for all participating sites. Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust collected 272; The Royal Free NHS Trust 252, the primary care team at Noclor 209; the Clinical Research Facility at University College London Hospitals NHS Trust 205 and Broomfield Hospital (Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust) collected just under 200 with 198.

In the survey, which can be completed online or in hard copy, research participants are asked a range of questions about their experience of taking part in research. The findings are used to help improve the way research is conducted in NHS trusts and primary care settings such as GP surgeries.

Christine works with appointed PRES Leads at NHS sites who are responsible for ensuring as many research participants complete the survey as possible.

This year, owing to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sites were asked to deliver PRES as best they could in the circumstances, and not given targets to reach.

Going online

PRES is notable for the way it can change research practice, as feedback from participants helps to shape improvements at NHS sites.

For 2020/21, a significant trend was the extensive use of participants completing the surveys online. In particular, The Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust and Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust benefited from this approach, with both trusts submitting all their responses online.

Caption: Patricia Gilligan, left, a member of staff from Broomfield Hospital, who took part in the SIREN study

Tracey Camburn, Lead Research Nurse at the Essex site, said: “People who took part in the SIREN study were our main focus. They used QR codes and URL slips and accessed the survey from there.

“We had never really used online surveys before but it will definitely be something that we will embrace going forward.”

Nargis Hemat, Lead Research Manager at the Royal Free, said the option of online surveys really helped boost numbers of respondents. “We gave our participants laminated cards with the information they needed to access the surveys.

“All our respondents were on COVID-19 vaccine trials, and in a pandemic, the ability to do the survey online and keep our patients safe was paramount to us.”


Caption: Royal Free staff member Suluma Mohamed holds up one of the laminated cards made by the trust so participants could access the survey

Impact stories

As a result of their 2020/21 results, NHS sites across North Thames plan to or have already used their results to create lasting impact in various ways. These include:

• At the Royal Free, local comprehensive training on trial activities to ensure the research team is confident in communicating trial related information to participants, together with extra staff at clinics to give refreshments to research participants

• The Clinical Research Facility at University College London NHS Foundation Trust has produced an information sheet to give all future vaccine participants; the content was based on comments from participants.

• Barts Health NHS Trust has produced an A5 thank you postcard, with PRES details and links to ‘further info’ on the back. They have also showed short films to participants on their first visit so they knew what to expect during the ENSEMBLE trial, which was the trial that PRES respondents at that trust took part in.

A note of thanks

Christine Menzies said: “I would really like to thank all the sites for their hard work in helping to delivering PRES over the last year.

We all know how hard the NHS has had to work during the pandemic, so to deliver PRES on top of that is a huge achievement for everyone in our region.

“PRES is key to research service improvement and it is great to see so many sites already using feedback from respondents to improve their research offering.”

Read the 2020/21 CRN North Thames Participant in Research Experience Survey report.