Study update

Ok starting to look more positive, I have tested 17 participants now! Hooray and I have three waiting to be tested probably next week…hopefully a few more will sign up as I have used my last reminder, until I hear back from ethics hopefully with approval to do some more direct recruiting.

Interviews are ready to go which is great and then all my spare time has been spent preparing for these and entering all this data I have collected from the first 17 participants. This is the time I start getting annoyed with myself during any piece of research as I think why did I have to administer so many questionnaires as I get overwhelmed by the pages worth of data! I am sure my participants don’t thank me for that either, but needs must. If only mood states didn’t change so quickly and often I could get away with one simple questionnaire.

Data entering is by far one of the most frustrating parts of this study because it is long-winded, but the best thing about carrying out this particular study is that all the students have said afterwards how useful they have found it. Which is great, I am so glad they feel they get some benefit out of taking part other than the small financial incentive (£15 of high street vouchers). The reason they have given me when they say they find it so useful is simply that they get to practice a core skill that they will use when they start working as pre-registration pharmacists next summer. In their fourth (and final) year of their Master of Pharmacy programme students do not do any practical classes, they do a research dissertation or placement during semester 1 and then in semester 2 they sit a variety of advance clinical and theoretical modules.This means they don’t practice any of the practical skills they will be using when they become pre-registration pharmacists from July 2012 onwards. This worries a lot of them, as like any good soon-to-be healthcare professional they want their skills to be on top form. My study gives them an hour of dedicated time for them to practice their checking skills.

The other thing that makes my study useful to them is the task set is also more realistic than those they get in class. This I think is a good experience for them too. The aim of the dispensing classes they completed in earlier years was to identify errors in a batch of dispensed prescriptions. The students quickly come to learn that there will be an error with every item, because this is how the class tasks are designed. The students see a much lower error rate in my study and it throws them at first. Even though I tell them that the task set is designed to be realistic and that they should not expect to find an error on every single item like in class. I found on my pilot I had to explain this as participants were failing to complete the task altogether as they would spend forever looking for an error that wasn’t there. They wouldn’t do this in real practice as they wouldn’t expect their fellow pharmacists to be making an error every time they dispensed something, so to me it didn’t seem wrong to give them this piece of information (i.e. I don’t think I was biasing their performance beyond levels expected in real practice by giving them this information).

All in all a happy PhD student today. Recruitment still isn’t what I hoped but the study is going well and I know I will get the numbers I need eventually. It’s just going to take a bit more time and a bit more flexibility from me.

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