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The role of gratitude in clinical trials

In this blog, we discuss the meaning of gratitude, while asking what does it mean to say thank you to your clinical trial participants?

During a recent study of 1,057 conversations spanning various languages, scientists determined that the presence of gratitude, namely the word, ‘thank you’ was only expressed once in every twenty occasions.

The results led researchers to say that, ‘In informal everyday interaction across the world, the general norm is to respond to another’s cooperative behaviour without explicitly saying thank you, but by simply continuing with one’s activities.’

It seems that we now take cooperation for granted, believing that everyone we encounter will always help, assist, support or simply do what we say. Throughout our day we experience deadlines, stress and personal battles, so receiving a document from a colleague you’d ask for earlier in the day is something you’d be expecting, but does this mean we shouldn’t acknowledge the small act of assistance from a fellow human being?

Thank you can go a long way

To understand the gravity of gratitude, we need to take a step back and really examine what that small, two-syllable word can mean to people. ‘Thank you’ puts us in a position of dependence on someone else, while we can often allow this to happen without recognising it, such as asking that colleague to send you that document. We very rarely like to be in a position where we are made aware of that dependence. Yet without recognising it, we go through our day indebted to various people, simply performing tasks or kind gestures because it collectively furthers each other’s day and on a much wider level, society in general.

The science of ‘thank you’ is established, and the psychology of gratitude shows how a seemingly simple and common emotion can significantly change peoples’ lives. It doesn’t take heaps of empirical evidence to prove this. Simply thinking about the feelings and emotions you associate with gratitude are enough to note the power of the word, ‘thank you’.

Often, ‘thank you’ can induce feelings of joy, happiness, and contentment. Ultimately, it draws attention to your efforts and how you have interacted with someone who understands and is aware of you.

Gratitude and clinical trials

So, what does this mean in the healthcare industry, predominantly for clinical trials? If we consider how much a person gives to a clinical trial, they have dedicated a significant amount of time but also, they have dedicated themselves. We must remember that a key motivator for participants in clinical trials is the knowledge that they are helping people, furthering disease development for the betterment of society.

That deserves gratitude.

Amongst the large demographic of those participating in clinical trials, ‘thank you’ draws attention to an individual participant, living their own life, facing individual battles. Whether through gifts, special thank you cards or saying it directly to the participant, gratitude lets a patient know what their time meant to the study team while also making them feel like they’ve made a large-scale impact within the healthcare landscape. For this reason, saying thank you may prove to be one of the most human things we can give to another person.

Thanks for reading!

4th November 2019

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