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If other treatments for your disease or illness haven’t worked, your healthcare provider may recommend that you participate in a clinical trial. Clinical trials can help researchers test whether new drugs or other treatment options are effective and safe. Major medical breakthroughs would only happen with people like you participating in research studies. Here are some reasons to consider taking part:
You Can Help Advance Medicine
Clinical trials are the best way to test new treatment methods. Each trial answers a specific medical question and helps researchers find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose or treat a disease. When performed carefully, studies like these can help you live longer and improve your quality of life.
Some people worry they will be treated like guinea pigs in a clinical trial, but this is rarely true. In most cases, the study’s research team comprises doctors and nurses who are world-class in their field and deeply understand your disease or condition. These professionals will provide regular care and healthcare advice as part of your participation in a study.
Depending on the study, you may need to attend more office visits or take extra tests as part of your participation. It is usually explained in detail when you agree to participate and can be discussed with a research team member before you join. Some trials only include healthy volunteers or those who do not have a particular health condition and are not using any medications or supplements. These are known as inclusion criteria and may exclude some people from participating in a study. Most insurance companies cover the cost of the new medication that you may be given during a clinical trial and will pay for any extra doctor visits or testing. Moreover, some trials have a budget that pays participants for their time and travel expenses.
You Can Help Save Lives
Many medical advancements that we rely on today, like cancer drugs, cholesterol-lowering medications, and vaccines, wouldn’t exist without the research of clinical trial volunteers. One of the reasons you should participate in clinical trials is to help medical researchers find better treatments, and they often do it for their health and the health of others and future generations. However, some patients hesitate to participate in clinical trials due to misconceptions and fear of being treated like guinea pigs. While this is a valid concern, participants should know that most clinical studies have impeccable safety records. The study’s people are trained to keep patients safe and carefully monitor side effects. And while there have been rare patient deaths in clinical trials, most studies are conducted without serious adverse events.
Furthermore, most trials are overseen by a group of doctors and scientists called an Institutional Review Board (IRB), ensuring that the benefits outweigh the risks for the participants. It helps ensure that medical products and procedures are as safe as possible for people who need them the most. It’s also important to note that some clinical trials are only open to people with certain characteristics, known as inclusion criteria. To broaden participation in the trials, doctors are exploring community-based tests that can be run at local pharmacies or doctor’s offices instead of only large academic medical centers.
You Can Help Find Better Treatments
For people who are already diagnosed with a health condition, participating in clinical trials may provide them with access to new treatments before they are available to the general public. They can also get advice, care and close monitoring of their condition from the researchers working with them on the study. The trial treatment is sometimes free, and the study sponsor pays for extra tests or doctor visits. It’s critical to remember that choosing to participate in a clinical study is always a personal decision. Participants should think carefully about the possible risks and benefits before deciding. They should also talk to their doctors and family before deciding whether to participate.
Healthy volunteers can help by giving researchers information about their habits and lifestyle and donating blood or tissue samples. Their participation is valuable because it allows scientists to understand better how the body and mind work and what conditions could be cured in the future. For ill patients, they choose to participate in a clinical trial to access potentially life-changing experimental therapies before they are widely available. The research may involve some inconveniences, such as a longer hospital stay or more frequent doctor’s appointments than usual. Still, it can also allow them to take a more active role in their healthcare and contribute to potential breakthroughs that will help others.
You Can Help Your Community
Clinical trials are a critical link in the chain from medical discovery to new patient treatments. Getting the most recent experimental medicine from the research lab to people like you depends on volunteers. In fact, without people like you, 37% of trials don’t enroll enough patients to move forward. But many people don’t know that participating in a trial can make a difference for their communities and themselves. Communities can be made aware of the value of clinical trials by healthcare professionals, researchers, and community organizations. By sharing information about how participation can help, they can build up the strength of a network that can support each other and make it easier for everyone to access research opportunities.
Another crucial step is improving the way that clinical trials are conducted. Getting more people involved in clinical trials requires addressing two issues: 1) the difficulty of recruiting participants and 2) ensuring that the clinical trial population reflects the diversity of the US. To discover contemporary solutions to these issues, researchers whose jobs entail recruiting volunteers for clinical trials have started to work with tech businesses. Yet these technologies are just a bandage over a wound that will only heal if we address the root cause of the recruitment challenges.