#WhyWeDoResearch campaign – by Cheryl Prescott and Claire Gibbs

“The #WhyWeDoResearch campaign was conceived and launched via Twitter by Claire Gibbs, Senior Clinical Research Nurse (@ClaireGibbsUK) and Abby Greaves, Research Administrator, (@JPUHResearch) at the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in December 2014.

Claire Gibbs and Abby Greaves

Claire Gibbs and Abby Greaves

Their intention was to use the hashtag #WhyWeDoResearch as a way to introduce core research team members to the public, while raising health care research awareness and promoting opportunities for patients, public and staff to become involved.

Almost immediately, the hashtag generated responses from outside the trust and #WhyWeDoResearch quickly gained momentum, attracting national and international attention through the force of social media. Other research teams working in the NHS, in industry and in charities throughout England and the UK began to post their own reasons for being involved in clinical research. Patient participants – the most important members of the research team – also joined in, tweeting their reasons for joining research projects. By week five, the campaign had reached 14 countries, including Australia, Spain, Italy, Ireland, The Philippines, USA, Canada and Germany, with formal #WhyWeDoResearch collaborators in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Canada and Spain.

From December 2014 to June 2015, there were over 31 million twitter impressions on the hashtag and over 3,400 participants actively involved in the campaign.

#whywedoresearchHowever, #WhyWeDoResearch is not about gaining influence or promoting behavioural change. Neither is it a mere sales or marketing strategy. It focuses on opportunity and inspiration.

The #WhyWeDoResearch format is a simple means to begin a conversation with a question. It asks “Why do you do research?” and enables those who rarely have a voice to share their reasons publicly.

The answers, posted as photos on Twitter, have provided the second element of the campaign: inspiration. Health professionals, support staff and those who participate in research as volunteers have given short statements – often simple, sometimes profound – that they are willing to declare to the world. These include “To save our daughter’s life” and “Because the possibilities are endless, we just don’t know what all the possibilities are yet!”

Clinical research is ultimately about people and improving the quality of patients’ lives. This campaign has revealed a community of purpose, allowing participants to join the conversation and take part. They can also see that clinical research involves a large, diverse team of health professionals and patients across the world who share a common purpose – to advance knowledge in order to improve patient care. As the online community grows, it gives us the opportunity to develop collaborations, to share problems and to develop solutions together rather than in isolation.

In addition to increasing awareness of research opportunities for staff, patients and the public, the #WhyWeDoResearch campaign has increased visibility of clinical research nursing as a specialism in its own right. This is particularly welcome for the researchers who work in isolation or in small teams. The secret to this campaign’s success is simplicity – it is about starting and continuing a conversation, sharing passion and enthusiasm about research and providing everyone involved in research, in any way, with a voice. The #WhyWeDoResearch campaign is a fantastic example of the power of social media to create collaboration and networking. An idea that began in a single research department in Norfolk with 20 core staff members has become a global campaign, providing researchers and patients around the world with a simple way to voice their enthusiasm and excitement for this important work.  

Where can I find more information?

Check out the official #WhyWeDoResearch website here: http://whywedoresearch.weebly.com/ for information, resources and links. Also check out our two YouTube videos which show the background and the progress of the campaign to date.

Video 1: Background

Video 2: From local to Global  

How can I get involved?

We would love to to expand the number of international collaborators to ensure the conversation continues. You can join up to be an ambassador for your organisation by contacting any of the collaborators via Twitter.

 

Authors:

  • Cheryl Prescott, Nurse Educator, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane Australia
  • Claire Gibbs, Senior Clinical Research Nurse, James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Great Yarmouth UK”

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