Educating High School Students and Their Families about Clinical Research
Informing students about clinical research – We teach 11th-grade students about clinical research as part of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. Because AVID is an elective course and teaches skills rather than content it is an ideal program for teaching about clinical research. Participatory tours of the UCSD General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) and Clinical Trials Center (CTC) – Students come to the UCSD GCRC and CTC for full-day participatory tours. They learn about the various ongoing studies and assume the role of research subject. Summer internship program – Each summer 10 students who have completed the 11th-grade clinical topics program are paired up with UCSD faculty who are actively engaged in clinical research. The students help with research protocols by for example entering or collating data. Family and community education program – The 10 students who complete the summer internship give talks during the following academic year to their families and to the school community. The students from last summer are currently making a video to show during their presentation.
In a previous SEPA grant UCSD established a highly successful partnership between the UCSD School of Medicine and Helix High School a San Diego urban school. UCSD now proposes to educate Helix students and their families about the value of clinical research as an approach to address the low enrollment of minorities in clinical research studies and clinical trials. Previous studies have shown that a lack of knowledge and appreciation of clinical research is a major barrier for minority groups to participate in clinical studies. The Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) Program helps educationally disadvantaged high school students to attain a college education. Since its inception in San Diego over 20 years ago AVID has been highly successful and the program has been disseminated to schools throughout the country. AVID uses an interactive format to teach skills concentrating on reading writing speaking and inquiry; the content of the curriculum is left largely to the discretion of the teacher. UCSD hypothesizes that the AVID program is an ideal opportunity to educate students about clinical research simultaneously increasing their interest in health-related careers. Phase I of the project will have four major components. First UCSD will integrate clinical research topics into the AVID curriculum. Seven medical school faculty each with different expertise and each actively involved in clinical research will provide content resumes on various clinical research topics. The resumes will be converted to AVID class lesson plans by two experienced Helix teachers. The lessons will be taught to about 40 11th-grade students each year. Second the AVID students will spend a day in the UCSD General Clinical Research Center and the Clinical Trials Center and they will actively participate in several ongoing research protocols. Third about 10 students will engage in a clinical research internship each summer. And fourth the summer intern students will educate their families and friends about clinical research through evening seminars. A control group at a well-matched sister high school will receive the normal AVID curriculum. Program effectiveness will be evaluated by pre- and post-intervention tests and questionnaires that evaluate knowledge about clinical research and attitudes towards it. During Phase II the program will be disseminated initially to high schools in the Southern California AVID Region IX area which includes Imperial Orange and San Diego counties and later to AVID schools nationwide. Dissemination will occur via an online mechanism monthly workshops and an annual summer conference.
Online dissemination – Online dissemination of the program will be done in project years four and five through the Professional Development Online Production (PDOP) group in the San Diego County Office of Education. Monthly AVID workshops – The clinical research materials will be presented to AVID teachers as part of their monthly workshops. This will include AVID teachers in Orange Imperial and San Diego counties. AVID Summer Training Conferences. A national summer AVID conference is held each year in San Diego and attracts about 4000 teachers. The clinical research materials will be presented at the conferences.
Evaluation Goal: We are evaluating every aspect of the program to determine which parts are the most effective in teaching students about clinical research. Our goal is to educate students and the community about clinical research so that they will be able to make knowledgeable decisions about participating in clinical studies. Evaluation Design: We evaluate content that the students have learned in the AVID classes by administering pre- and post-lesson tests and comparing the results for students in the intervention group to results from students in a well-matched control group. We also perform attitudinal evaluations by asking the students how they would feel about participating in a clinical study or having a family member participate. In addition we evaluate the value of the GCRC and CTC tours and the summer internship by asking both content and attitudinal questions and by performing exit interviews of the students. We also evaluate the attitudes toward clinical research of parents and family members who have attended student presentations about clinical research. Data Collection and Analysis: For the content evaluations we use multiple choice true/false and short answer tests. For the attitudinal evaluations we use short-answer and short-essay instruments. We enter all data into Excel worksheets without student identifiers. We have approval from the UCSD IRB to conduct these studies. We are just completing our first year so our data so far are limited. However we have found that the program makes students more favorably inclined towards clinical research but because we have only one year’s worth of data the conclusions are inherently limited.
Resources for Sharing
Clinical research topics materials – UCSD faculty generated 5-6 page summaries about each of the clinical topics. From these summaries the high school teachers generated specific class lesson plans and tests. Student-generated materials – The students generate materials to be used as part of their presentations.
Our project is aimed primarily at 11th- and 12th-grade high school students. The students then teach other students their families and the community at large.
We teach the students about various aspects of clinical research including the following six topics: “What Is Clinical Research” “The Ethics of Clinical Research” “Design of Clinical Research Studies” “Participation in Clinical Research” “The Value of Clinical Research” and “Current Clinical Research Projects at UCSD.”