When the blondes team up you know you are in for a laugh and a good time but put us in situation which is bound by red tape and with no other options… you better just give us a little space. Here is a frustrated rant from Tasha and Zoe.
We live in a very different world compared to generations before us. Technological advances are coming at us left, right, and centre, leaving us with a feeling that if we so choose, we never have to be disconnected from the outside world. There are all of the i-related products, the ‘Crackberry’, interactive communication programs like Skype, and the list goes on… In light of all this it is understandable that we are increasingly concerned about keeping our personal privacy. Legislation has tried to keep up with the many technological advances by creating “The Privacy Act”. This act, in a nutshell, allows us to be assured that a company we have given our personal details to cannot sell our contact information to other companies looking to sell us products that we don’t need. This is a good thing right? But, in a zealous fit of propriety, have we gone overboard? Let us explain.
For years, many researchers (ourselves included) have faced a perplexing problem. We are trying to give away free physiotherapy treatment to people with injuries. That’s right, I said FREE. That should be pretty easy right? With the financial crisis just behind us and the threat of another always looming you would imagine that people would jump at the chance to save a buck and also receive top-of-the-line physiotherapy treatment. Well, I am sure they would if only we could find them. It should be that difficult I hear you say, and we completely agree with you, but patient recruitment is a monumental task and time after time trials run over schedule or are abandoned because they just can find the people to participate.
Physiotherapy waiting lists are common in many organisations and institutions. Due to a severe dearth of physiotherapists compared to the number of patients seeking care, patients get to look forward to waiting up to 12 months before they get treatment. Wait a minute (ping as the light bulb illuminates), why don’t you researchers just contact these people and say, ‘Hey – guess what? I’ve got free physiotherapy treatment to give you’…and the reply? – we’d LOVE to. Not only would we be treating someone closer to their injury date (which has been shown to improve treatment outcomes) but we could be learning valuable information through research so that we can better treat people like them in the future. However, because of the newly embraced privacy revolution and a whole lot of red tape, we can’t. What we do instead is send patients information about our study and then cross our fingers and hold our breath hoping that a couple of people actually read our handout that, admittedly, looks incredibly similar to junk mail, then make the effort to contact us and inquire about the free treatment on offer. Unsurprisingly, we have little success.
Would people really mind if their contact details were given to researchers, knowing fully that they would not have to participate in the study if they didn’t want to? Maybe they would and here The Privacy Act does its job. But can we not put a system in place where, upon admission to hospital, upon seeking care for an injury, a form is filled out that asks you as a patient if you are okay with being contacted for research purposes? ‘Yes – I wouldn’t mind being contacted by researchers who are studying my condition.’ Or ‘No – I would rather not be contacted by researchers because I am not comfortable giving my contact details away.’ Then the privacy issue has been covered and we are giving patients the choice rather than choosing for them.
No matter how you look at the situation the ultimate goal is the same….for those with an injury; for clinicians treating the person with an injury, for researchers studying how to better treat the injury – get [this injured person] better. If we as researchers hope to do our part in achieving this goal, we need help. Give us the chance to work with the system not fight against it. Let’s not make supplying free treatment to patients struggling to receive care in an over-worked health care system the problem. Because that just doesn’t make sense.
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academic misconduct advertising Bec career Cartoon Chris W cochrane collaboration conferences cost doping evidence-based practice experiences experts fun grants hours interpreting research LBP Forum learning Leo C lifestyle Luciola C nerds networking new skills Nick H PhD placebo presentations profiles publications question of science reporting research methods research translation retraction Sport stats Steve K study quality supervisors Tasha tips for research videos WCPT work-life workload writing Zoe M