April 23, 2012, by Emma Thorne
Music to patients’ ears
The opportunity to write about the latest breakthroughs in science, technology and medicine is certainly one of the perks of working in the Press Office of a research-intensive university like Nottingham. What’s even more gratifying is seeing first-hand the impact that those stories are having on people’s lives and the importance of the work that our academics are doing.
A fine example of this is the recent publicity surrounding a clinical trial being led by University of Nottingham experts at the National Biomedical Research Unit in Hearing (NBRUH) to test a new treatment for tinnitus — a pocket-sized device that uses sound stimulation to reboot faulty ‘wiring’ in the brain to rid sufferers of the ringing or buzzing in the ear which are the classic symptoms of the debilitating condition.
Since the story hit the media — featured in publications including The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Times — the Press Office has received dozens of emails from sufferers keen to volunteer to take part in the clinical trial, hopeful for a cure for their symptoms.
The publicity has been so successful generating interest that the researchers have had a phenomenal response, with 400 people now on the waiting list for this trial alone — enough to fill the 100 places available four times over.
The importance of recruitment
Dr Derek Hoare, a senior research fellow at the NBRUH, said: “Recruitment is such a big issue in hitting milestones in clinical research, there is a lot of pressure from funders to recruit to time. At the same time researchers and healthcare providers have a responsibility to ensure that everyone who might be eligible to join a study has the opportunity to know about it.
“As was the case here, the right piece of publicity is sometimes enough to do your recruitment for you and populate an entire study, and engage people for future studies. There are so many positives to this in terms of raising our profile as a research unit and university, and for our unit in particular demonstrating an openness, engagement, and impact with the public.”