By Dr Osman Ahmed @osmanhahmed
How many of us have treated a patient/athlete and thought “that’s one heck of a story they’ve got”? Quite a few of us, I expect. Throughout our working lives we encounter patients who have been through circumstances and situations that we can easily look too as a great learning example, both for ourselves and for our colleagues.
Although Case Studies and Case Reports provide one window into the experiences of the individual, they fail to capture a very important aspect- the opinions and feelings of that person. Despite what our respective health systems lead us to believe at times, patients are not numbers and are not homogenous; they are all distinct individuals, each with stories to tell about their care which we can learn from as clinicians.
The movements of patient participation and participatory medicine1 have been helping to reinforce that each patient has a role to play in their own rehabilitation and recovery, and also in the research that is related to their condition. Embedding our patients and athletes in all of these processes more fully is of clear, mutual benefit, and for the SEM profession this is an emerging and invaluable area.
BJSM “Patient Voices”
In keeping with the BMJ’s Patient Partnership strategy2, BJSM is delighted to announce the launch of the new “Patient Voices” series. Articles in this series will the platform for our patients and athletes to share their stories with the SEM community. The patient will be the sole author of the piece, in order to give them the empowerment that they deserve and to ensure that they can tell their story in the way that they want.
Patient Voices articles will not attempt to educate clinicians on the specifics of the condition/injury in question; rather they will allow the patient to explain how they felt during the process, to share any concerns that they have, and to give valuable take-home points for the clinicians reading their story. We hope that clinicians and readers of BJSM across the globe will be able to encourage patients and athletes that they treat to share their stories and submit them to the journal to help generate a better understanding of what our patients are experiencing.
Embedding patients with research
In addition to the Patient Voices series, BJSM is taking other several steps to help fully embed patients into the research process:
- Indication of involving patient with research
All the research we conduct in SEM is (hopefully!) for the benefit of our patients and athletes, so a natural progression is to involve a patient as part of the research team. Having patient/athlete involvement in the early planning phase will help to steer the research towards a truly-patient centred direction, and will maximise the impact of your research. BJSM will now have an optional tick box at the submission stage to verify those authors who have sought patient involvement in the design of their study.
- Co-creation of articles
Following on from the above, to fully involve our patients in the research process we hope that clinicians will consider including patients as co-authors. This is not aimed as a token gesture; allowing patients and athletes input into the final version of a manuscript for submission will mean that patient insight is present throughout the content and that the manuscript accurately reflects the patient perspective.
- Patient reviewers
BJSM is very grateful to our ever-expanding team of peer-reviewers, and to complement this we are introducing patient reviewers for original research. In keeping with the BMJ approach3, we aim to generate a bank of patient reviewers who will be well-placed to offer additional insight alongside that of the formal peer-reviewers.
- Spin-off Patient Voices pieces from original research
If you are conducting an original research article to submit to BJSM, then why not consider speaking to one of your study participants about their experiences and see if they want to share their Patient Voices too? This will enable your readers to understand more about the clinical area you have researched into and will provide real-world context to your study.
Want to get your patient voice heard?
If you have worked with or have contact with an athlete who you feel has a story to share then check out our instructions for authors below and help your patient’s voice be heard:
Dr Osman Ahmed is a lecturer in Physiotherapy at Bournemouth University, England and a physiotherapist to the Football Association. He is the associate editor of the “Patient Voices” series in BJSM.
- Dyson, E (2009). Why Participatory Medicine? Journal of Participatory Medicine;1(1):e1.
- Richards, T (2015). Logging The BMJ’s “patient journey”. BMJ 2015;351:h4396
- “What does the BMJ mean by patient involvement and co-production?”. Retrieved 24th February 2018. Available at: http://www.bmj.com/sites/default/files/attachments/resources/2017/03/guidancepatientinvolvement.pdf.