Have you ever read a peer-reviewed research article about diabetes and thought, “But they didn’t take into account X and Y,” where X and Y are conditions every patient is familiar with but the peer reviewers might not be?
The term peer here means peers of the researchers, that is, other researchers, not people who live with the disease.
Well, now the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) has started a program whereby patients can sign up to be patient reviewers. In order to sign up, you go to their manuscript submission site and set up an account. It’s a little complicated and nonintuitive, for example, where the form says, “institution,” you type in “patient reviewer." But they have a YouTube video walking you through the process.
Maybe they figure that if you can’t follow the instructions to register, you won’t be able to understand research papers. Or maybe it was just easier to adapt a current form than to come up with a totally new one.
No one knows how this will turn out in the long run, but it’s an interesting idea, and it respects the concept that many patients know a heck of a lot about the diseases they live with. Good for the BMJ!