Making an impact on paediatric studies through effective communication

By Heather Glover, Paediatric Research Nurse at

5th April 2012

Many drugs which are prescribed and administered to children have not been adequately studied in the paediatric population, due in part, to the difficulties with patient recruitment and retention within this population. It is a well-known fact that children requiring hospital care can bring a great deal of stress for all involved. Imagine though, that this is not a very sick or acutely ill child that this is being imposed upon. Imagine that this is due to the need for research…

The lack of specific drugs is now a long-standing international problem. This has resulted in changes in legislation and updated regulatory guidance ensuring that medicines for use in children are of high quality, ethically researched and authorised appropriately. There is great importance for the involvement of children in pharmaceutical development, and the operational considerations which are necessary when designing studies for this population.

From the practical perspective of a paediatric research nurse based in the community, there is an opportunity to make a huge impact on the life of a child involved in a study, and that of the family. The feedback from parents and children involved in current studies confirms that conducting research in their own home is far easier and better for the child and family, rather than the need to attend hospital appointments on a frequent and regular basis. It gives the child a greater sense of security, reduces the need and associated costs of long journeys to hospital sites as well as the days of schooling lost by travelling to site, thus ensuring  the participant  keeps a degree of normality to his/her daily life. Surely paediatric community research nursing should reduce the difficulties with patient recruitment and retention in trials and encourage pharmaceutical companies to engage in further paediatric research.

It is important also, that the pharmaceutical companies have their needs and expectations met, in order to enhance the credibility of the team undertaking their research. Presentation, when interacting with the client and participants in a trial, is vitally important; professionalism and excellent communication skills are key. At we believe that professional nursing is about an interpersonal process requiring the integration of both clinical and human skills. Effective communication and the development of interpersonal relationships, both internal and external to the team, are essential skills of a competent research nurse.

We must recognise the differences in our colleagues, patients, and parents, in order to ensure effective communication with all, as this will allow for the optimum interpersonal relationship, whether that be a therapeutic or working relationship. At recent staff training with, much focus was given to how we can strengthen our communication skills in this way. Through understanding how we ourselves communicate, and how other members of our team may respond to different communication techniques, we can achieve our goal.

Developing the best communication strategies can mean the difference between success and failure when working with people. We can embrace our different styles and generate a respectful and trusting working environment, in turn enhancing the professional and caring image portrayed to clients and patients, whilst delivering a high quality service which will make an impact on those who we work with. We extend this into the homes of our patients, giving them confidence in us professionally, clinically and compassionately. These are all essential elements of a good communicator, even more so when working with children.

More paediatric studies conducted in the child’s own home, by skilled and experienced research nurses, is the way forward to increasing essential trials among this population. Pharmaceutical companies can be reassured when designing trials and the operational considerations necessary, that provide this service to a high standard through the effective communication conducted between our team, our clients and our patients.

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