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The role of shared decision making in research: a new researcher's epiphany

I’ve just started my medical doctorate and I find myself in the developing phase of my project. The first few months have been a whirlwind of events, and a rather steep learning curve for me. I had never heard of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) before, however the idea was introduced early in the project by my supervisors. I also recently attended a training session for post graduate students called ‘Developing Skills in PPI’, which was organised by the School of Primary Care Research and the Faculty of Medical Sciences Engagement team at Newcastle University.

As doctors we have the patients’ best interest at heart and we are all familiar with the idea of shared care and shared decision making. In my field of activity (children) things are even more complex because there are always others (parents) involved! Many of my patients are not at the age where they can make informed decisions for themselves, and the issues of consent and capacity are very complicated. However, any clinician will very carefully consider the wish of the child during the whole process of diagnosis and management of disease. So then, why not when it comes to research?

It felt strange for me to think that the patient’s wish may not be explored when research is conducted. Yet, I didn’t think about it until it was pointed out to me!

At the training session I met many interesting people, who helped me to understand what PPI means. I’ve also learnt how much the involvement of the patient in making decisions with regards to research can change the perception about research itself.

Following the training session I asked Voice North for their help and feedback on my study materials. Their feedback was very useful. Not only could I see what I did well, but also the areas that I could improve on. I have taken their advice and included it in my way of thinking about my study. They helped me understand my own work better!

I am really grateful to the Voice North members who took their time to help me and I am looking forward to meeting them again!

Dr Otilia Osmulikevici
Postgraduate Research Student

Institute of Health and Society
Newcastle University

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