Opinion

Improving patients’ experiences of clinical trials tweet by tweet

Nurses hold the key to improving patients’ experience of cancer research, says Lisa Berry, so join our Twitter chat and have your say

Clinical trials are a vital part of cancer research, but there is work to be done to ensure all eligible patients are made aware of opportunities to join.


The roundtable generated good ideas for collaborative working. Picture: Barney Newman

In England, for example, the 2015 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey found that fewer than one third of patients said that someone talked to them about whether they would like to take part in research after their diagnosis.

Collaborative approach

As with so much of cancer care, nurses hold the key to improving this situation. Collaborative working between clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) and clinical research nurses (CRNs) can increase awareness of trial opportunities and, crucially, improve patients’ experiences before, during and after trials.

Recently, these two groups of nurses were brought together in a roundtable meeting organised by RCNi and Cancer Research UK. The roundtable aimed to explore and share how collaboration between CNSs and CRNs has benefited patients and to discuss best practice now and in the future.

Sharing knowledge

Formal and information communication underpinned much of the discussion: sharing knowledge about clinical trials electronically and by good old-fashioned phone calls; feeding back trial results to patients and staff; and drawing up narrative end of trial plans so that everyone, especially patients, knows what to expect when the trial ends.

There were some excellent examples of best practice too, including a joint CRN/CNS post. Imagine if that was the norm in every trust? And I was intrigued by the suggestion of making trials truly patient-focused by involving nurses and patients in the protocol writing stage.

Free download

I was delighted that we ended up with such a lively discussion that generated some cracking ideas for partnership working and lots of practical, take-home tips and resources. You can read about them in this free download.

Twitter chat

We’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences too: how can CNS and CRN collaboration be improved for the benefit of patient care? What can you share from your practice that may help colleagues? We’ll be hosting a Twitter chat on Thursday 16 March between 1-2pm where we’ll be joined by Cancer Research UK research nurses.

We’d love as many people as possible to have their say so please share the article link far and wide, and invite your colleagues to join the debate.

Follow @NurseStandard and use #NSComment on Thursday 16 March between 1-2pm.

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