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Compliance In Focus
Posted by John Lehmann on Thu, Jan 24, 2013

The Importance of Communication in Clinical Research

Clinical Research Monitoring is a vital part of the Clinical Trial process, and one of the mostThe Importance of Communication in Clinical Research prominent skills you’ll find in an effective monitor is exceptional communication.  Whether you’re contacting a site, writing a confirmation letter, drafting a report, or talking to an investigator, your communication skills, or lack thereof, will determine how well you are perceived and will ultimately affect your effectiveness in the clinical trial process.

As a clinical research monitor, you are in constant communication mode, understanding that at any given time, those lines of communication could be compromised, bruised, or even severed.  Understanding what you can do to help maintain a positive communication flow will only help you throughout the clinical trial process. According to Elizabeth Scott, M.S., in an article on About.com,  these are some of the steps you can take to improve your communication skills:

Listen Carefully:  People often think they’re listening, but are really thinking about
what they’re going to say next when the other person stops talking. Truly effective communication goes both ways. While it might be difficult, try really listening to
what your colleague is saying. Don’t interrupt. Don’t get defensive. Just hear them
and reflect back what they’re saying so they know you’ve heard. Then you’ll
understand them better and they’ll be more willing to listen to you.

Try To See Their Point of View:  In a conflict, most of us primarily want to feel heard
and understood. We talk a lot about our point of view to get the other person to see
things our way. Ironically, if we all do this all the time, there’s little focus on the
other person’s point of view, and nobody feels understood. Try to really see the
other side, and then you can better explain yours. (If you don't 'get it', ask more
questions until you do.) Others will more likely be willing to listen if they feel heard.

Own What’s Yours:  Realize that personal responsibility is a strength, not a weakness.
 Effective communication involves admitting when you’re wrong. If both parties share some responsibility in a conflict (which is usually the case), look for and admit to what’s yours. It diffuses the situation, sets a good example, and shows maturity. It also often inspires the other person to respond in kind, leading you both closer to mutual understanding and a solution.

According to the Scott article, “Conflict in a relationship is virtually inevitable.  In itself, conflict isn’t a problem; how it’s handled, however, can bring people together or tear them apart”.   A lack of communication skills coupled with misunderstandings can either lead to stressed working relationships, or it can propel us to stronger working relationships.  

Have you had a difficult situation arise that required you to become a better communicator?  How did this impact your role on a research team? We’re interested to hear your experiences and how communication plays a part in the day-to-day setting of clinical research. Feel free to comment below!

Photo Credit: Mercy Health

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Topics: Communication, Clinical Research, Clinical Monitoring


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