With the current health disruption in mind, governments and private institutions are investing heavily in clinical research in preparation for future disruptions. Clinical trials will be crucial in the first steps towards combating major healthcare threats. It is only a matter of streamlining testing tools and data-gathering approaches in a bid to fast-track the development and distribution of vaccines and drugs. There is a need to look at clinical trials from the perspective of those who are taking part in them. If you are a volunteer or you have been chosen to participate in a clinical trial, you might want to check out these tips:
1. Know your reasons for volunteering
Pre-pandemic clinical trials aimed for at least one in every 200 individuals would participate. In case you chose to participate in a clinical trial, you need to be sure of why you wanted to in the first place. For many people, taking part in a clinical trial is an opportunity to help others out and to play a role in the advancement of medical science.
Volunteers may or may not receive monetary compensation, but you have to bear in mind that your role as a participant offers something valuable to the world in return. At the very least, you can receive quality healthcare free of charge if ever the trial triggers certain complications. Then again, you also have to consider if you are even fit to join a clinical trial. This brings us to the next tip.
2, Know if you are fit to join
Clinical trials are controlled activities and researchers observe strict protocols and guidelines when administering drugs and prototype medical aids to volunteers. Moreover, clinical trials undergo different phases before they involve human subjects. Starting from lab experiments, the trials will progress to animal experiments.
Despite this, you are still vulnerable to risk, especially if you are taking medication or if you have comorbidities. Make sure to review the guidelines of the trial and see whether you fit the criteria of the institution that’s handling it. You should talk to your doctor as well if there are any risks or complications you should be aware of.
3. Know if you need to travel to take part
Laboratories and controlled medical environments are not the only venues for a clinical trial. Research teams can also administer drugs and gather data from where the participants live. Knowing this is crucial if you are debilitated or have difficulty traveling across state lines. With the advent of remote communications technology, conducting clinical trials in Latin America and other parts of the world has become more efficient in reaching out to volunteers who live in communities that lack access to healthcare facilities. You may have to ask the research team if they are capable of providing in-home clinical trials.
On the other hand, if the trial is required to take place in a laboratory setting, you may want to know if you will be paying for your transportation expenses. There is also the issue of informing your doctor about your intent to travel for a clinical trial. In case you are being treated for cancer, it’s best to know if the research team could stay in touch with your oncologist throughout the program.
4. Know the type of clinical trial you are undergoing
Clinical trials are not limited to vaccines and drugs. Researchers will also test new tools and approaches for treating or diagnosing a certain disease. These trials are separated into two categories: interventional and observational.
In interventional trials, research teams administer different drugs or products to different groups of volunteers. They will then determine the direct impact of these products to each group. The purpose of an interventional trial is to make comparisons and find out if a certain product could either be beneficial or harmful to certain individuals. By contrast, observational trials involve applying a product and observing its effects under specific conditions. This often helps when developing drugs and other forms of treatment with a high efficacy.
These categories are further divided into different types of studies aimed at generating a specific insight about a product. Screening trials, for instance, involve testing out new approaches towards detecting illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. When it comes to developing vaccines against viral diseases, research teams look towards treatment trials in order to evaluate efficacy and possible risk. Regardless of the type of trial you are undergoing, learning more about the type of trial you are volunteering for helps you steer clear of any dangers.
5. Learn more about the institution funding the trial
Manufacturers of drugs and medical supplies are required to follow strict regulatory guidelines when conducting research and development initiatives. After all, there are also ethical dimensions in the practice of conducting a medical trial. For one, research teams are encouraged to follow protocols when selecting and declining participants for a trial. Moreover, they also need to be careful when it comes to handling participants, especially if it involves transporting them to another country where the trials take place.
Research teams have ethical and legal obligations when it comes to handling participants of a trial. Ignoring such obligations can be more fatal to the participants themselves. In an article on Scientific American, many clinical trials led by startups were done in developing countries without prior authorization. According to the article, American volunteers were made to travel to nearby countries to receive experimental drugs.
This is just one risk you should keep in mind. There is nothing wrong with deciding to take part in a clinical trial, but it’s important that you participate in one that would be done properly and legally. In that case, take time to learn about the company you are dealing with and see if it has had a bad rap when it comes to clinical research.
Participating in a clinical trial isn’t for everyone, but it does give you a sense of fulfillment knowing that you are helping to save lives. You just have to stay informed and cautious as you go through the phases of a trial.
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