20 October 2015

A new study aims to investigate how multimedia affects engagement of children and adolescents in clinical trials

Scientists will investigate how multimedia presentations affect recruitment and understanding for children and adolescents taking part in medical trials.  

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), joint research between York’s Department of Health Sciences and the Hull York Medical School will explore whether multimedia information is more effective than traditional printed leaflets in informing patients and their parents about medical trials.

Multimedia presentations are computer-based resources that give information via text, audio, video and animation. They are interactive, allowing patients to view segments in any order they wish.

Traditionally, patients joining a medical trial are given printed information leaflets, often criticised for being too long, technical and difficult to understand.

Existing research suggests multimedia information delivery can be effective with adult patients. However, no such research has yet been undertaken with a younger age group.

Researchers from the Universities of York, Manchester, Leeds, Durham, Liverpool, Cambridge and Alder Hey NHS Trust will create two multimedia presentations for use on desktops, tablet computers and smartphones.

Analysing children and young people with long term conditions asked to take part in a medical trial, researchers will compare numbers who agree to participate based on how they receive information. They will investigate if using multimedia affects children and young people’s ability to find and understand information compared with reading from a printed sheet. The study will also look at how sure young patients and their parents are that they have made the right decision, whether that is to take part in a medical trial or to decline.

Dr Peter Knapp, lead researcher and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences and the Hull York Medical School, said: “Young people now get so much of their information from computers, rather than printed documents, that this research is very timely. Even before the study has started, there has been considerable interest from medical researchers in North America and Australia, as well as in the UK.

“It’s vital that different ways of giving health information are evaluated before use, not just introduced into practice without testing. In general there is a lack of medical trial research undertaken with children and adolescents – often evidence is applied from trials involving adults – and so anything that increases the number of young patients in trials of medical treatments is very welcome.” 

The study will begin in January 2016 and take 28 months to complete.