Every disease treatment or prevention prescribed today results from clinical research, but many patients don’t know that. Moreover, they may believe myths or fears about participating in a clinical trial. During clinical trials, participants can be randomly assigned to get the new treatment or a placebo (an inactive pill). Only doctors and patients know who gets which treatment once the study is over.
They’re Looking For a New Treatment
People have a variety of reasons why they participate in a clinical trial. Some patients find that the treatments they get through their doctor do not work or have many side effects. In contrast, others are interested in advancing medical knowledge and helping other patients with the same disease. Most of the time, participants clearly understand what being in a clinical trial means. They know that it is not a guinea pig experiment. They also understand that they will be provided with great care while being in a study. Many studies require them to do extra things or have tests done that they normally don’t get, but their doctors and other healthcare providers assure them that this is for the best of their health.
The fact is, every treatment and prevention that we have today has been made possible because of clinical research. However, despite the great amount of effort that researchers, clinicians, and organizations have put into making the case for clinical trial participation with their patients and physicians, the level of involvement has remained stubbornly at about 3% to 4%. Patients need to talk to their doctors about clinical trials so that they can be informed about what it means to participate in one and decide whether or not it is the right choice for them. The discussion should include talking about the patient’s individual goals and values. It is important to remember that deciding to participate in a clinical trial is always voluntary and that the patient can withdraw from a study without giving a reason.
They’re worried about side effects.
A common concern for people considering clinical trials is that they’ll be treated like guinea pigs. In some ways, this is true — participants are closely observed and may have extra tests or treatments that wouldn’t be part of their normal care. But this level of observation is usually for the good. It helps doctors spot potential side effects and monitor how the new treatment works. It also allows researchers to find the best dosage of a drug, which is important because it can reduce side effects and increase its effectiveness. In addition, a study’s participants are often treated by physicians specializing in their type of cancer. Some people choose to participate in clinical trials because their standard (approved) treatments haven’t worked or they can’t tolerate the side effects of those treatments. Others do so because they want to contribute to medical knowledge and advance treatments for others. For many, the benefits of participating in a clinical trial outweigh any risks. However, it’s worth remembering that every treatment underwent a clinical trial, including processing through a laboratory before being approved. It’s also worth noting that if a patient experiences any unexpected or serious side effects, they can withdraw from the trial without giving a reason. To speed up the lab workflow, and help with organization, it is worth using software that specializes in lab information system improvements, to improve workflow efficiency, accuracy, and patient safety.
They’re Looking For a Cure
Some patients participate in clinical trials because they need more than the standard treatment options to work for them. Other patients may feel like they are contributing to medical research and want to help future generations of patients. Some people fear that participating in a trial means being treated like a guinea pig or they’ll get a placebo. While it is true that participants in clinical trials might not receive the best treatment available, they will have access to a new treatment, and their doctor will monitor them closely for side effects. Before they can be approved, new medications must undergo clinical studies. The good news is that the doctors and staff who work on clinical trials are well-versed in the importance of treating their patients with kindness and respect, and they do everything to keep them safe. They also work hard to ensure their research is ethical and benefits the public. Every clinical trial has eligibility criteria guidelines that outline who can and cannot participate in the study. It is to prevent a trial from having too few or too many participants and to ensure that the results will be accurate.
They’re looking for a more personalized treatment.
Doctors and patients must discuss clinical trials early in their treatment decisions. Some of the biggest concerns for people considering joining a trial are that they will be exposed to additional risks, have to spend more time at appointments, or their insurance might not cover costs. But federal rules and clinical trials protocol help protect patients’ safety and privacy. All the information collected from a patient in a study, including test results and medical history, is kept on special forms or in computer systems with only a code number for identification. Only the people who analyze the data can see your personal information.
Many studies also require participants to meet certain criteria based on things like age, sex, type and stage of the disease, or whether they have a particular version of a gene. It helps reduce the variation in outcomes within a study. While some of these requirements seem like barriers to participation, the research team has thought about making it easier for everyone to join. A good place to start is with the doctor’s office, which can provide more detailed information and support.