Why Research Matters; and Misconceptions Cleared
Clinical research matters because it makes a healthier tomorrow possible. Without it, a broken bone would remain broken. The common cold would go untreated. A cancer patient would have no hope for a cure. It has to start somewhere. It has to start with someone.
So why do so many studies fail due to lack of participants? Why should you even consider it?
Clinical research is crucial in discovering new treatments for all kinds of diseases, illnesses and conditions. Research also helps find ways to detect and diagnose diseases, as well as helps find preventative measures for these diseases or illnesses.
Medical studies show us what works, and what doesn’t work that cannot be learned any other way than on willing humans. These studies bring new medications and treatments proven effective into pharmacies or on the shelves. Our main goal as a Research team at GMRI is not only to educate our community, but to give people more healthcare options now, and in the future.
So why does Research have a bad rap? Why do so many promising studies fail from lack of volunteers?
There are so many misconceptions about Clinical Research. Previous, dated information is still being shared, & while we do understand why people are skeptical; research, medicine, and science has come a long way. Aside from the misconceptions, there simply isn’t enough information, or resources available for people to learn about it. Let’s address some of the most common questions we get, and some of the misconceptions.
Why should I be a Guinea Pig for big pharma if I don’t even get anything out of it?
Not all studies are sponsored by big pharmaceutical companies; they can be initiated by Individual Doctors, Universities, etc. Many patients feel apprehensive when hearing the words “trial” or “experimental” but contrary to popular belief, these therapies have actually undergone extensive testing in the laboratories, animals and then in healthy human volunteers before being used in clinical trials for humans. Participants get frequent extensive health check-ups, and have close attention paid to them to ensure their well-being. Most studies do not require any insurance, and will assist with the cost of time and travel during participation. What participants get out of it, is the help & care of a team who deeply understand a condition, medical attention that usually exceeds that of a Doctor’s office, potential for a new and effective medication before it hits the market, and the knowledge that you really are helping people in the future.
Clinical research is risky because it tests unproven therapies.
The trials that reach human participants are already rigorously tested to make sure they are safe for use. These later phase studies allow us find better treatments, and sometimes even rule out existing ones with new data. In addition, there are different trial phases that are meant to test different aspects of treatment, and sometimes these trials are on already approved medications/devices, but they are searching for more data. For example, some trials test for find the best dose and safety, others for effectiveness in comparison with current therapies, and some are meant to research the long term effects of a new or already approved therapy. All trials and study teams will always look out for safety of the volunteer. In fact, before joining a trial we must make sure you are a good candidate. Every study has strict inclusion and exclusion criteria that we review against your medical history/background and current medications to make sure you won’t be at risk.
Clinical research trials are only for patients who are out of options.
Clinical research trials are not only used as a last resort after all other options have been exhausted. Although it can certainly be a motivator for some volunteers. Medical studies exist for all types and stages of different conditions, and even for their prevention. Clinical trials can be beneficial for newly diagnosed patients, patients who have not responded can’t use already approved treatments, and sometimes even healthy volunteers are needed. Many times volunteers just want to help medical science.
Trial participants must pay everything out of pocket
It’s important to know that clinical research trials are generally funded from a variety of sources. Sometimes, insurance companies a part of treatment during a trial. Other times, trial organizers might provide funding, or there may be other private or public programs that provide funding for all necessary procedures, exams, and medications. Usually, trials do not cost a volunteer anything, and will in fact offer compensation for any time needed to participate, and travel expenses.
Once I volunteer, I can’t back out.
This is simply not the case-ever. To participate in a trial, you must sign a document called an Informed Consent. This document details everything you need to know about the study, including risks, benefits, data from previous studies, what the expectations are of you, what will we be testing and how etc. Many people might think that this is a contract. It is not; it is meant to make sure that everyone participating knows exactly what they are getting into, what their rights are, who to call if things go wrong, etc. Clinical Research is completely voluntary; meaning that if at any point in time during participation you want, or need to drop out, you may do so without any repercussions. The study team might just ask for you to return any study medication, and come back for one more visit to make sure you are safe after leaving.
If we have learned anything after this pandemic, it is how important Medical Research is. Whether they want more information, are interested in alternative treatments for an existing condition, need to seek care due to lack of health insurance, would like to receive a second opinion, or simply want to assist in the evolution of science, research volunteers are helping build medical therapies that may someday offer better treatments for a variety of illnesses. We truly hope we can help spread the knowledge about research and if it helps even just one person decide to participate in a trial, it will be worth it. Without you, we are at a stand still.