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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Taking part in clinical studies, sometimes called clinical trials, is vital to improving health. This is especially true for minorities.
Clinical studies are research studies using people as volunteers. These studies try to answer certain questions before a discovery becomes part of regular medical care. They also help doctors decide whether new medicines and treatments are both safe and effective. In addition, studies help show if a medicine's risks are worth its benefits.
Clinical studies have led to the discovery of:
Clinical studies are the fastest and safest way to find treatments that work in people. Currently, few African Americans and other minorities take part in clinical studies. This is a concern. Research shows that certain drugs affect African Americans differently than other groups. And, because many minorities are reluctant to take part in research studies, we know less about how to give them the best care.
This hesitation to take part is not surprising. Serious medical mistakes in the past have given African Americans reason to distrust clinical studies. One medical tragedy was the "Tuskegee Experiment." In this study, doctors observed the health effects of syphilis in nearly 400 poor African American men from Alabama for forty years.
Syphilis is a life-threatening infection. When the study started in the 1930s, there was no treatment. After World War II, penicillin treatment was available, but it was not given to the patients in the study. Some patients died who could have been treated.
The harm brought about the research protections in place today. Learn more about the rules that protect people who take part in clinical studies at Someone Is Watching Over You: IRBs and How They Protect You.
By having research volunteers from all populations, we can learn how to give the best care to everyone. You can take part in the research studies that matter most to you and your loved ones. To find a research study that is a good fit for you, see the information below.
Whether you are looking for studies on ClinicalTrials.gov or helping researchers find you on ResearchMatch, always keep the following in mind:
What makes you unique is what is needed the most.
Why ResearchMatch? Fact: Recent surveys show that few Americans (less than 5%) know where to find out about research studies that are a good fit for them. Fact: Research volunteers are medical heroes. Why? Because behind every medical breakthrough and new treatment are thousands of people who take part in research studies.
ResearchMatch is one way to help match medical heroes with research studies. How? Think of posting your resume on line. Like a resume helps employers look for people to fill a role in their company, ResearchMatch is your research resume with details about you. This allows researchers to look for volunteers who may be a good fit for their study.
The NetWellness feature ResearchMatch and You - Making a Difference One Discovery at a Time gives a step-by-step guide about how ResearchMatch works and what you can do to take part in research. Once you put the details of your profile in ResearchMatch, it is kept secure. These details will only be shared when you agree to take part in a study.
Many people want to take part in research studies. Finding a study that is the right fit for you or your loved one can be a challenge. ClinicalTrials.gov helps speed up the search by having a list of studies offered in the United States.
The search tool on ClinicalTrials.gov allows you to look for research studies that are as unique as you. This allows you to search by your:
In any search that you do on ClinicalTrials.gov, it is important that you include your city and state in your search so that you can find trials that are happening close to home. The NetWellness feature How to Find a Clinical Research Study/Clinical Trial guides you to get the best results for your search.
Putting all parts of the picture together, researchers find the best ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat a medical condition. By having research volunteers from all populations we can learn how to give the best care to everyone.
This article is a NetWellness exclusive.
Last Reviewed: Jun 20, 2014
Susan Wentz, MD, MS
Director, Area Health Education Center
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University