Research campaigns in the UK National Health Service: patient recruitment and questions of valuation
Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
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AbstractThe National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) aims to improve national “health and wealth” by providing infrastructural support to enable clinical research in National Health Service (NHS) settings in England and Wales. Cognisant of the consequences of studies’ failure to achieve required numbers of participants, it also actively campaigns to promote patient awareness of research, and willingness to participate in trials. In this paper we analyse recent NIHR campaigns and policies designed to encourage patients to participate in clinical research to interrogate how they are implicated in the national bioeconomy. In doing so we expand the notion of ‘clinical labour’ to include the work of patient recruitment and highlight an emergent obligation on patients to contribute to research processes. Whereas once patient knowledge and experience may have been devalued, here we draw on the concept of ‘assetization’ (Birch 2017) to explore the emergent relationship between healthcare system and patient as research participant. We consider how patients’ contribution goes beyond the provision of standardised objects of valuation so that patients themselves may be perceived as assets to, not only recipients of, the national healthcare system.
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