Does it pass the Father-in-Law test?

By Fi Edwards, Founder + Managing Director 

It was International Clinical Trials Day this week. Here’s the story of how a clinical trial leaflet led to the creation of Skin and Blister.

I had popped round to my 74-year-old father-in-law’s house for a cup of tea. He opened the door, looking anxious. “I’m glad you’re here, I’m worried about this letter from my GP. I think my heart is in trouble.”

The letter and accompanying leaflet were telling him that he was eligible for a clinical trial, taking place at the hospital where he’d received treatment for a heart condition, 10 years previously. Now retired, the journey to that hospital would be difficult and inconvenient for him. What’s more, his recovery had been good, with minimal intervention and lifestyle changes. He’d all but forgotten that he’d ever had heart problems.

The language in the leaflet was confusing, clinical and lengthy. My father-in-law was overwhelmed. He felt pressured to take part in the trial, even though he didn’t have a clue what he was being asked to do.

The whole communication was wrong, and it made me angry. Luckily, I had some experience of creating patient recruitment materials for clinical trials, so we sat and talked it through. Taking each section, I translated the leaflet into human language. We covered why clinical studies are so important, why they are needed and what might be involved if he took part. At the end of the conversation, he was able to make informed choices.

That was the day I fell in love with the skill of engaging with patients. I had learnt to always put the reader first. To take complex scientific information and make it meaningful, accessible and useful to all.

Years later, whenever I am reviewing a patient recruitment piece from Skin and Blister Healthcare Communications, it must meet an important objective before it can leave the building.

Does it pass the father-in-law test?

This article was first published on our LinkedIn page:

Does it pass the father-in-law test? by Founder + Managing Director Fi Edwards 

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