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A Research Assistant’s Reflections on Recruitment Ending.

We hear from Research Assistant, Rupa Patel

How are you feeling about recruitment ending?

I’m feeling excited mainly! I’m very proud of how the research sites (Glasgow, Manchester, Kings, UCL) have all worked together to make this trial a success. This is a great feat, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that struck shortly after launch.

Although I am sad we aren’t open for more people to access Avatar therapy, I am hoping Avatar therapy will be more widely available in the future. This all depends on the results of the trial, revealed in the coming months.

Describe your journey and what you have enjoyed most about your role.

This time last year I joined the team. Coming from a clinical role in the NHS (as a CBT therapist), it has been refreshing to work in mental health research. Mainly my work has involved recruiting participants to the trial, conducting assessments and promoting the study to NHS teams. I have learnt so much about how a randomised controlled trial is run to a high standard.

When I first started, I felt nervous about Patient Public Involvement (PPI) as I had no prior experience in this area before. PPI consultants typically consult on the running of the trial, including promoting the study to NHS teams. When delivering presentations to NHS teams with PPI consultants, I have been struck by their openness to share their lived experiences, which has been pivotal in us forming better links with NHS teams and making Avatar therapy accessible.

Conducting the assessments with participants has been enlightening as I have met people with diverse experiences of voice-hearing. My assessments have also meant I had a chance to explore new boroughs of NE London that I’ve never ventured to!

I have also really enjoyed the pace. I have valued having time and space to reflect on my work with participants and to carefully understand their responses to assessment questions. It has felt on this trial, time has been taken to ensure participants’ experiences are represented accurately and fairly.

What are you looking forward to?

I cannot wait to hear about the results of the trial! As a research worker I cannot know which pathway participants have been randomly allocated to (e.g. whether they receive 6 sessions of Avatar therapy, 12 sessions of Avatar therapy or they continue with their usual care). This has been tough for me as it feels like there is an elephant in the room when I meet with participants at their follow-up assessments, and we can’t talk about it.

Now that we have met our milestone of enrolling 345 participants to the trial, we will be focusing on conducting qualitative sub-studies which involve interviewing participants about their experience of Avatar therapy and the experience sampling methodology app. I’m really looking forward to taking a deep dive into research and seeing what processes are involved in making a new therapy more widely available in the NHS.

Overall it has been so lovely to work with such a passionate team of experts in ground-breaking research.

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