Every year for the past 5 years, the University of Aberdeen has held an annual event called May Festival. May Festival was last weekend, and I went along with some other staff members from the Health Services Research Unit (HSRU) to engage with the public and talk clinical trials.
We used fruit polos (red group) and mint polos (blue group) to teach members of the public about randomisation, and if they had a strong preference for one type of polo we introduced the idea of a patient preference trial, where participants can choose which group they are in (purple group). Once participants had picked or been randomised to a fruit or mint polo, they had been recruited into our trial. After that they were asked to complete a treasure hunt looking for letters around the marquee that we were based in – this simulated the data collection stage of a clinical trial. Once they came back with the required letters we were able to monitor our participant retention, and engage in discussion about the meaning of the word they’d made on their treasure hunt. These words included: review, research and health.
May Festival is based on University grounds, and the audience was varied – we randomised our Head of School, one of the founders of HSRU, and lots of young children and families too. In the end we recruited 9 people to our patient preference group, 83 to the mint polo group, and 79 to the fruit polo group. We were lucky with the weather and the weekend was super sunny and warm, which I think made more people come to the event, and a more varied group too.
This was my first May Festival, which is weird because I was an undergraduate student at the University of Aberdeen too! I’ll definitely be heading along next year as well, the variety of events and demonstrations held over the course of the weekend was amazing. Lots to do, lots to learn, and a brilliant opportunity to find out about research being done in Aberdeen.
As I usually do with conferences, I did a doodle when I got home – this time covering some of the questions we’d been asked over the course of our event.