Clinical research has helped us find new ways to prevent, diagnose, control and treat diseases and debilitating conditions. This is what moves medicine forward – for the benefit of people everywhere.
You may or may not benefit from participating in a study, depending on the type of study and its results. Here’s why medical researchers need your help.
Better Health Care
Clinical research provides medical professionals and patients with valuable information about treatments that work and don’t. This knowledge is crucial to advancing medicine. Medical institutions that participate in research are more likely to adhere to guidelines and apply new technologies quickly, and they’re also more likely to retain patients.
Many people choose to volunteer for clinical trials because they want to help others. Healthy volunteers are needed for Phase I studies, which test drugs in a small group of people to evaluate safe dosage ranges and identify side effects. The results of these studies are incorporated into the body of general scientific knowledge and benefit everyone.
The trial participants will often receive regular care and attention from the research team, which may include world-class physicians. They are given a unique opportunity to form strong relationships with their physicians, and they may be able to get advice on managing their condition and treatment options that could not have been found in other settings.
People of every age, health status, race and ethnicity should consider participating in clinical research. However, some groups are underrepresented in clinical trials because they’re less likely to volunteer. This is a big problem and needs to be addressed. Increasing the number of volunteers who participate in clinical trials will help researchers develop effective treatments in all populations.
Many people participate in clinical research to help find better treatments. Some participants have a specific health condition that doesn’t respond to standard treatment options or can’t tolerate the side effects of other treatments. These people may have the chance to be among the first in the world to benefit from a new medical approach or cure.
In other cases, researchers are looking to make existing medications safer and more effective. For example, what was once considered the best therapy for depression has since been revised and improved by the results of further clinical research. The same can be said for cancer treatments, vaccines and more. Doctors also use research to create new surgeries and devices, as well as to improve current ones.
All clinical trials have a risk/benefit balance to consider for both the participants and future patients. An Institutional Review Board (IRB) expert reviews plans for each study to ensure an acceptable risk amount. The IRB will compare the benefits of being in the study to the potential dangers.
While some risks are involved in clinical research, most are mild and short-lived. Any bets that are associated with a particular study are explained in what’s called an informed consent document, which participants are required to sign.
Research is important in advancing medical knowledge and ensuring that the next generation of patients receives the best care possible. Often, participants find that they benefit from their involvement in a clinical trial by having better healthcare options in the future and by receiving treatments that are more effective than standard methods of care.
People who take part in a clinical study may also have the opportunity to be among the first to have access to new treatments that will help them live longer. Those diagnosed with a severe disease, such as cancer, may find that the trial is their only chance to receive a more effective treatment.
Most studies don’t involve additional costs for participants, except for regular clinic visits and any tests or procedures required by the study. However, some trials require more costly treatments such as pills, injections or a device. These trials typically have a sponsor that pays some or all of the costs for the study’s participants.
Participating in a clinical research study is a personal decision that should be discussed with your doctor. A good doctor can be an important resource for letting you know what studies are open in your area and can help you make an informed decision about whether or not to participate.
Getting people to think about clinical research is challenging, but they must do it. People need to realize that participating in studies can greatly impact society. The more individuals experience, the better medical care and treatment will be.
In a recent survey, respondents named “advancing science and treatment” the top perceived benefit of clinical research. They also called “helping others” and “improving lives.” Despite the occasional bad press regarding faulty medical trials, most studies have impeccable safety records.
For physicians, participating in clinical research may also help increase a practice’s reputation. Patients trust doctors who participate in clinical trials; the more a physician participates, the more likely they will be accepted into other institutions.
Many of the medications and devices approved by the FDA in 2015 result from medical research. The number of medical devices and medicines that have been developed is rapidly increasing.
Participating in a clinical trial can take time, but it’s worth the effort for both the physician and the patient. By completing one or more trials, you can provide patients with cutting-edge treatments and procedures they won’t get anywhere else.