Transforming research: engaging patient advocates at all stages of cancer research
In recent years there has been a push to include patients and advocates in clinical research, including in clinical trial design and approval processes. Additionally, increased advocate-driven research funding has led to seats for advocates in the funding review process. However, despite advances that include having patients and advocates involved in clinical research projects that may directly, or eventually, affect their care and treatment, we have much further to go to make this a truly inclusionary participation in research. We have even further to go to actively incorporate patients and advocates throughout the research continuum. Here we review and present current programs and projects that have successfully incorporated patients and advocates into translational research, and propose mechanism and strategies to actively engage patients throughout the research continuum. Our goal in translational cancer research is to improve outcomes for cancer patients. To more successfully and quickly meet this objective we should incorporate patient driven research questions earlier in the process, specifically at the level of basic benchtop research.