By Development Officer,
GenerationR is now developing to help young people understand the concepts that surround fair tests of treatments – that is how we make fair comparisons, how we eliminate bias (that’s favouritism towards one treatment), and how we place people into groups in studies, among other things. GenerationR hopes to do so by evaluating and developing educational material for young people and teachers to use in the classroom, as part of critical thinking and general knowledge.
Myself and a member of a Young Person’s Advisory Group, Esme, went on a short trip to Oslo in July to help improve the usability of a questionnaire that will be used to test whether young people using the educational material have a better knowledge than before of the concepts that are required to understand whether a treatment claim is reliable or unreliable, and whether a treatment has been compared fairly to another (or a placebo – control). The questionnaire has a set of 200 questions, which are now being narrowed down by the Norway team to a much smaller set (24 for children). A set of 24 questions will be given to them before and after the intervention – the intervention being the educational material. This educational material is being piloted in Ugandan children to start with, and hopefully, if successful it is something that can be evaluated for school children here in the UK.
The educational material is a work book for children (still in progress) and a teaching guide. The workbook is essentially like a comic book, telling a story and raising important questions about why and how we carry out fair tests. At the end of each chapter are exercises that should help the children to put what they read into practice. It also contains a parrot, called prattle, who often attempts to confuse the children in the story by giving them unreliable information. The book is currently undergoing some final design alterations. Next year, they aim to do a randomised controlled trial of the material so that some Ugandan children are taught using the book, and other children are not given the material. The aim of the book is to improve knowledge about fair tests of treatments and hope young people can make more well-informed decisions with their families about their health. We look forward to hearing how it all goes!