Clinical research trials are a vital part of the development of new treatment protocols and pharmaceutical products. Unfortunately, many trials ‘ as many as 20 percents of publicly funded studies – fail before they even get to this stage due to a lack of patient participation.
The reasons for a lack of participation vary. In some cases, there simply aren’t enough individuals who meet the study criteria to make it work. In other cases, it’s due to a lack of physician access to information; after all, a doctor cannot recommend a patient for a trial if he or she is not aware of it.
In even more cases, though, low clinical trial participation stems from the patients themselves, and their concerns over the effect that the trial will have on them, both in terms of their personal health and the actual requirements of the study itself.
The fact is, in the past, participation in clinical trials has been, if not an all-consuming endeavor, one that takes a significant amount of time and effort. Between visits to a provider for testing and follow-up, recording information in a written diary, and other activities (educational sessions, etc.), clinical trial participation requires more effort than many people were willing or able to put in. Much of that has changed, though.
Thanks to the implementation of improved electronic clinical outcome assessment tools and simpler, more efficient protocols, joining clinical trials is actually easier than ever before.
Are You Eligible for a Trial?
Currently, the website Clinical trials list more than 220,000 Clinical What You Need to Knowical studies from around the world. While not all of these studies are currently active or recruiting, the sheer number of research studies is indicative of the potential opportunities for your participation.
In most cases, clinical trial participants are recommended by their physicians. Because there are so many trials, though, if you have received a diagnosis of some type, you can conduct your own search for potential studies. The federal clinical trial website is one source; Center Watch and the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation are also good sources to find trials that may be accepting new patients.
Major medical facilities and research universities may also have study opportunities. However, again, because clinical trial requirements tend to be quite stringent, and participants must meet very specific eligibility criteria, it’s always best to speak with your doctor first to determine whether the study is right for you.
Working with your doctor is also important because participating in a clinical trial often means changing your current treatment plan. Even if you meet the diagnostic criteria, there could be other factors that preclude your participation, so working with your provider is a must.
Still, in many cases, clinical trials are a viable option for patients who are not responding to other treatments.
What You Need to Know?
Participating in a clinical trial isn’t as simple as signing up and taking some new medication, then letting the researchers know if it worked. Most trials begin with a screening of some type, in which the researchers determine your eligibility and fill you in on the details of the study. This is when it is important to ask questions, including:
- How long will the trial last?
- What will my responsibilities be; i.e., how often will I need to see a doctor, what kind of testing will there be and how often, how will I report my results, how far will I have to travel to see providers?
- What types of support resources are available?
- Will you provide the necessary equipment for the trial, i.e., a mobile device for recording and submitting outcomes or do I provide my own?
- What are my options if the trial treatment does not seem to be working?
- Will I continue to take my other medication or receive my current treatments?
- What are the potential side effects of the treatment?
- What costs will I incur? In many cases, insurance will cover some of the bills for participating in a trial, but if there are additional costs (including travel expenses), who will cover the costs? Is there financial assistance available if I can’t afford to participate?
- Will I be compensated for my participation?
Keep in mind that you are never required to participate in a research study and that you can drop out of a study at any time. The process of informed consent meaning that you are informed about all aspects of the study, both positive and potentially negative’ continues even after you begin participating, and if you learn information that concerns you, you have the option of dropping out.
Participating in a clinical research trial allows you to be an integral part of the future of medicine the knowledge gained from you and other participants can help save lives and improve medical care. Many studies are easy to participate in and require little more than recording information in an app and a few doctor visits.
If you have any interest in participating in a study at all, be sure to speak with your doctor and be a part of the future of medicine.
This is a sponsored post written by Cher Zevala. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own. Learn more about contributing for Consumer Health Digest.