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Patient authorship: key questions answered (Part B)

Questions and answers on scrap paper

Patient authorship is a key component of the shift towards increased patient involvement in medical publishing. According to the authors of a recent two-part series in The MAP Newsletter, many medical communication professionals have had a change of opinion on patient authorship, “from ‘Oh really?’ to ‘Yes, really!’”. Part A of this series explored the potential impacts for sponsors that do or do not pursue patient authorship. Part B delves further into the practicalities of patient authorship.

The authors highlight that most doubts about patients meeting ICMJE authorship criteria relate to the first criterion: “substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; OR the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work.” They suggest that patient authors can robustly satisfy this requirement by:

  • helping to design and review study protocols
  • harnessing their links with patient communities to assist with data acquisition
  • helping to interpret research findings from their perspectives.

The authors also explore the challenges that patient authors may face, and suggest ways in which medical communication professionals can help. For example, encouraging early involvement of patients in research can increase the likelihood that they will be eligible for authorship further down the line. In terms of patient authors’ confidence, knowledge and experience, medical communication professionals can support in a plethora of ways. These include the provision of training (such as the WECAN training module on patient involvement in publications) or the development of plain language tools (such as guidelines that help patients to understand the ICMJE criteria).

It seems patient authorship is now a “reality” and will only become more prevalent. The authors highlight the need for publication professionals to adapt quickly to the increasing “patient authorship publication environment” and encourage readers to share their experiences and opinions using the Twitter hashtags #patientauthor and #GPP4.

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Summary by Emma Prest PhD from Aspire Scientific

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With thanks to our sponsors, Aspire Scientific Ltd and NetworkPharma Ltd


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