Creation of a peer Mentorship scheme in the POPS trial


Session type:


Sophie Alexander1,Linda Wedlake2,Min Cheung3,Julia Murray4,Helen McNair1,David Dearnaley4
1The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust,2NIHR BRC RM Clinical Trials Unit, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust,3NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research, London.,4The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research, London.



The POPS trial is investigating the use of ProSpareTM, a novel rectal obturator, in patients receiving post-operative prostate cancer radiotherapy. ProSpareTM is a successful image-guidance tool1, target stabiliser2,3 and rectal spacer4. Patients self-insert ProSpareTM prior to radiotherapy planning and treatment. The effectiveness of ProSpareTM requires consistently reproducible insertion. We explored the feasibility of introducing the POPS Mentorship Scheme. The aim of this scheme is to provide guidance and support to potential ProSpareTM patients from patients previously treated with ProSpareTM.


Ten former ProSpareTM patients were invited to attend a focus-group session facilitated by Trial Manager and Radiographer and supported by the Trust Patient and Public Involvement and Information Governance Managers. Seven former patients attended and following a summary of the POPS trial, an open discussion on the need, benefit and potential issues of the Mentorship scheme were considered.


All who attended expressed the genuine need for the Mentorship scheme. They felt this was most important when ProSpareTM is first discussed in clinic. The practicalities of establishing this scheme were discussed and recommendations were:

  • Telephone communication preferred over e-mail or an online forum as believed to offer Mentors increased security and provide a more personal approach.
  • Patient expectations to be managed from the outset with clearly defined scope of the scheme in a patient information leaflet.
  • Mentor Handbook including terms of reference, general guidance and signposting to additional support.
  • Gathering Mentor and patient feedback on the POPS Mentorship Scheme to quantify success and areas for improvement.


The design of the POPS Mentorship Scheme has been shaped by the invaluable experience and guidance of previous ProSpareTM patients. Their insight was of great help to the trial team and the process inspired these individuals to become Mentors. We envisage using our model to develop similar peer support networks in future trials and general practice.