My first time as a test subject took place sometime in November 2014.  As mentioned in a previous post, I sign up for research volunteering opportunities for the incentive offered, but also because it’s kinda fun and interesting.  And I assist others in their research, which is a noble aim and all that.

The first study was to do with the perception of risk in healthcare choices. The person whose study I was involved with recently gave a talk at an event I co-organised (more about this later). Anyway, the researcher was interested in the way that patients perceive the benefit and risk associated with participating in breast cancer screening programmes.

I was presented with information in various formats, including the cost to me to attend (this was assuming a publically-funded healthcare system, and so only included things like travel cost and inconvenience), the risk of getting a false positive and attending for unnecessary treatment, and the chance of the test detecting an actual cancer that needed treatment.

I was shown a number of screens for different options, and asked to evaluate my preferred testing choices. After I had completed the exercise, the researcher told me a little about what they were using the data for, and how when healthcare choices are made in the UK, the reliance tends to be on the clinician, and the effect of decisions made by the patient has not really been looked at. While patients do not prescribe their own medication, or select appropriate treatments, they do make choices about whether to attend screening, or to continue with a form of treatment, or to follow the doctor’s advice.

After the study we spoke about this, and other related topics, for about an hour.  This was a really cool experience because not only did I get to participate in, and find out about, exciting research happening at the University, I got to meet somebody really interesting and have a properly intellectually stimulating chat.

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