They want YOU! The “they” are researchers across the country, and they hope you’ll consider participating in their research efforts.
These scientists are conducting clinical trials, which help drive medical advances through evaluating new ways to prevent, detect or treat a disease or condition. “Treatments might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments,” the National Institutes of Health website reports. These tests try to determine if a new treatment or a test is viable and safe. Participants not only help move science forward, but also may receive the newest treatment and receive additional attention from the clinical trial staff.
And there are a lot of trials going on. For instance, 138 studies about menopause across the United States are in some phase of implementation, according to Clinical Trials.gov. The topics really vary and include the following:
- Climacteric Therapy with Applied Relaxation Using InterNet. This study is looking at applied relaxation techniques for hot flashes related to menopause.
- Effects of the Concentrated Extract of Soy on Coagulation Factors After Menopause
- Menopause and Meditation for Breast Cancer Survivors
- Perception and Attitude Toward Estrogen Therapy Among Surgically Menopause Women
- The Role of Vitamin D in Menopause: Relationship to Menopausal Symptoms in Body Composition
- Attention and Memory Impairments in Menopausal Women
- Research Investigation of Soy and Estrogen
- Bioidentical “Natural” Hormone Evaluation in Early Estrogen.
The concept of the clinical research study often begins with the researchers who want to take the next steps in trying promising treatments. These trials come after researchers have tested the therapy or procedure in the laboratory and in animal studies. The clinical trial allows scientists to learn more information about the effectiveness and risks of an experimental treatment. The trials are set up using a protocol, which is designed to safeguard participants’ well-being and also answer specific research questions.
The trials in the United States are approved and monitored by an Institutional Review Board to ensure that participants face minimal risks that are also offset by potential benefits. “An IRB is an independent committee that consists of physicians, statisticians, and members of the community who ensure that clinical trials are ethical and that the rights of participants are protected,” the NIH website states. “Federal regulation requires all institutions in the United States that conduct or support biomedical research involving people to have an IRB initially approve and periodically review the research.” Furthermore, all participants are asked to sign an informed consent form so that they have key facts about the trial prior to the start of the study. This enables potential participants to weight the positives and negatives of participating. Because the informed consent form is not a contract, participants also can withdraw from the study complete or refuse to take part in treatments at any time.
Clinical trials are financially sponsored. Funders can be federal agencies such as the NIH, organizations such as pharmaceutical companies or foundations, or individuals such as physicians.
If you’re considering volunteering for a study, the NIH suggests a list of questions for you to ask, such as:
- What’s the study’s purpose?
- Why do the scientists believe the approach maybe effective?
- What are the possible short-term and long-term benefits and risks?
- What kind of therapies, procedures and/or tests will happen during the study?
- Who will be in charge of your medical care?
- How could the study impact your daily life?
- Will you have to pay for any part of the trial, and if so, how much?
- What portion of the study might health insurance cover?
To learn about a trial that may be seeking volunteers in your area, check this site.