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Patients can contribute to medical studies now

To make medical research more patient-centric, top journals are now inviting reviews from people who have suffered the disease in question.Moving away from traditional ways of publishing medical research studies, renowned journals around the world are now adding a human touch to research by introducing patients as reviewers. Studies, thus, will not just be peer reviewed by scientists doctors before publication, but also be assessed by a group of select patients who have gone through the turmoil of the disease under study .

Top journals such as British Medical Journal, Research Engagement and Involvement and Journal of Participatory Medicine have introduced patient reviewers, thereby allowing patients to be contributors in health and medical research. "Imagine development of a chemotherapy, which is targeting the organs but is causing great discomfort to patients. As researchers we need to understand what the patients require," says paediatrician Dr. Meenu Singh at PGI Chandigarh, a regular reviewer for the well-known Cochrane database of systematic reviews based in the UK.

This trend gives patients a voice and allows researchers to do studies relevant to their needs. "Patient involvement in all aspects of healthcare is to be welcomed. Of course, there would be sensible as well as terrible comments, which reflect a range of opin ions. In the end, they will go through a process of informed decision making. Reviews will also be assessed by editorial committees that will differentiate the wheat from the chaf," says Dr. Vivekananda Jha, professor at department of nephrology , PGI and deputy editor of the Indian Journal of Nephrology .

The publishers who have initiated patient reviews say they are provided a slightly different set of questions than those posed to traditional peer reviewers. Amy Price, a PhD researcher in evidencebased healthcare at Oxford, says, "An informed public working together with medical providers will forge a dynamic partnership that will potentially save many lives."

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