Participating in the Future through Clinical Research
Does is seem like it has been a long year waiting for the coronavirus vaccination? Some folks are now beginning to reap the benefits of the research that happened during 2020. Perhaps some of the phrases related to research sound unfamiliar to you: clinical trial phases, emergency use authorization, or efficacy. Despite this potential unfamiliarity, one thing is obvious - we would not have the vaccines available today if thousands of people had not been willing to be involved with research. The same is true for many cancer diagnoses and treatment options. They are only available because numerous people willingly agreed to participate in the research needed to move the science forward.
You may be familiar with times in the past when research was not particularly well-regulated or reviewed. There were situations when participants were knowingly given less than optimal care and even inappropriately given harmful treatments in the name of “research.” These are the types of unethical experiences that understandably linger in the memories of many and create an atmosphere of fear and hesitancy related to research participation. Unfortunately, that may foster an ongoing cycle of reduced research involvement and consequently, reduced science related to the advancement of treatments and other courses of care.
How is research oversight different now? Institutional Review Boards (IRB) were created in 1974 as a way to oversee proposed research projects to ensure all human subject research is scientific, ethical, and regulatory. This oversight provides a level of assurance to participants that the research has been reviewed by an independent group with their safety and needs as the priority consideration.
If you are asked about participating in a clinical trial and have concerns about safety, privacy or questions as to what the language truly means, share them with your healthcare provider. Your questions are important and so is your chance to participate in research. For more information, listen to this video on clinical trials or check out the following websites: