Involving seldom-heard groups in a PPI process to inform the design of a proposed trial on the use of probiotics to prevent preterm birth: a case study.
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Res Involv Engagem
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PLAIN ENGLISH SUMMARY: When designing clinical trials it is important to involve members of the public, who can provide a view on what may encourage or prevent people participating and on what matters to them. This is known as Public and Patient Involvement (PPI). People from minority ethnic groups are often less likely to take part in clinical trials, but it is important to ensure they are able to participate fully so that health research and its findings are relevant to a wide population. We are preparing to conduct a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to test whether taking probiotic capsules can play a role in preventing preterm birth. Women from some minority ethnic groups, for example women from West Africa, and those who are from low-income groups are more likely to suffer preterm births. Preterm birth can lead to extra costs to health services and psychosocial costs for families. In this article we describe how we engaged women in discussion about the design of the planned trial, and how we aim to use our findings to ensure the trial is workable and beneficial to women, as well as to further engage service users in the future development of the trial. Four socially and ethnically diverse groups of women in East London took part in discussions about the trial and contributed their ideas and concerns. These discussions have helped to inform and improve the design of a small practice or 'pilot' trial to test the recruitment in a 'real life' setting, as well as encourage further PPI involvement for the future full-scale trial. ABSTRACT: Background Patient and public involvement (PPI) is an important tool in approaching research challenges. However, involvement of socially and ethnically diverse populations remains limited and practitioners need effective methods of involving a broad section of the population in planning and designing research. Methods In preparation for the development of a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) on the use of probiotics to prevent preterm birth, we conducted a public consultation exercise in a socially disadvantaged and ethnically diverse community. The consultation aimed to meet and engage local service users in considering the acceptability of the proposed protocol, and to encourage their participation in future and ongoing patient and public involvement activities. Four discussion groups were held in the community with mothers of young children within the proposed trial region, using an inclusive approach that incorporated a modified version of the Nominal Group Technique (NGT). Bringing the consultation to the community supported the involvement of often seldom-heard participants, such as those from minority ethnic groups. Results The women involved expressed a number of concerns about the proposed protocol, including adherence to the probiotic supplement regimen and randomisation. The proposal for the RCT in itself was perceived as confirmation that probiotic supplements had potentially beneficial effects, but also that they had potentially harmful side-effects. The complexity of the women's responses provided greater insights into the challenges of even quite simple trial designs and enabled the research team to take these concerns into account while planning the pilot trial. Conclusions The use of the NGT method allowed for a consultation of a population traditionally less likely to participate in medical research. A carefully facilitated PPI exercise can allow members to express unanticipated concerns that may not have been elicited by a survey method. Findings from such exercises can be utilised to improve clinical trial design, provide insight into the feasibility of trials, and enable engagement of often excluded population groups.
AuthorsRayment, J; Lanlehin, R; McCourt, C; Husain, SM
- Genomic Medicine