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Patient Advocates for Clinical Research (PACER): A Step Toward Ethical, Relevant, and Truly Participatory Clinical Research in India.

Curēus 2024 April
Background Clinical research presents a promising path for improving healthcare in contemporary India. Yet, researchers identify gaps in trust, awareness, as well as misconceptions about being a '"guinea pig." We proposed building the capacity of training patient advocacy groups (PAGs) in patient-centered clinical research and through them creating aware patients as research partners. Methodology Patient Advocates for Clinical Research (PACER) is a tiered program to share information and education about clinical research with PAGs. Tier one is a self-paced online learning course, followed by workshops on clinical research, Good Clinical Practice, research consent, case studies, and group discussions. Results A total of 20 PAGs represented by 48 participants, active in areas of pediatric cancer, breast cancer, multiple myeloma, type I diabetes, spinal muscular atrophy, sickle cell disease, and inflammatory bowel diseases, participated. Among 48 participants 30 successfully completed the online course (multiple-choice question evaluation score cut-off >70%), attaining an average score of 23.9 ± 2.1 out of 30. Overall, 48 participants attended workshop 1 and 45 workshop 2, with 140 participants joining the focus group discussion (FGD). An overall improvement of 9.4% (𝜒2 = 46.173; p < 0.001) for workshop 1 and 8.2% (𝜒2 = 25.412; p < 0.001) for workshop 2 was seen in knowledge gain about clinical research. The FGD raised issues such as misleading information from research teams, unethical recruitment, incomprehensible information sheets, and limited trial-related knowledge fostering fear of participation in clinical research. Conclusions Multimodal and tiered learning of clinical research such as that used by PACER has a good participatory and learning response from PAGs and may be further explored.

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