Working with clinicians

The clinical world is made up of established networks.  Health and social care professionals will have good contacts that can be used to recruit partners.

Steering Group members should consider who they can influence to participate, and the best way to do this.  Arranging brief one-to-one meetings with clinicians whose input is particularly wanted for the PSP is an effective way of securing their support.  It is an opportunity to raise their awareness of the importance of the priority setting process and to explain the value of their contributions for influencing the research agenda.

It is important to give clinicians as much notice as possible about meetings and other arrangements.  This will enable them to arrange for colleagues to cover their work commitments such as clinics.  Clinicians working with the JLA have suggested that at least six to eight weeks’ notice is required.

Consider whether meeting attendance could merit Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Deaneries and medical schools can authorise a request for this.  The JLA can support an application if required.  PSP members may also be aware of similar points systems for other medical professionals at different grades.

Facilitators of meetings should ensure that clinicians are able to contribute to the discussion equally to patients and carers.  Sometimes there are high levels of dissatisfaction with available clinical treatments.  It is important that sessions do not become a forum for criticising or berating those clinicians present.  Equally, it is important that clinicians, who may be more used to speaking in an open forum, do not dominate the discussion at the expense of less confident members of the group.

Many different healthcare professionals may treat people with the condition in question so it is important to ensure that clinical diversity for the condition is taken into account when recruiting partners and inviting representatives to participate in prioritisation.  For example, the Schizophrenia PSP ensured that a range of viewpoints was captured in prioritisation, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and advice line staff. 

A clinician’s account of being involved in the Schizophrenia PSP was published in Nature in June 2011.  

Clinicians who have been involved in JLA PSPs have reported finding it very rewarding to be able to listen to patients’ views outside of the normal consultation environment.