The story of clinical trials is a story of progress. From the first documented experiment, to recent explorations of DNA sequencing in drug development, clinical research has played an important role in improving the health of people all over the world.
We’re glad that International Clinical Trials Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate this story every year. Last year, we imagined what James Lind’s scurvy study, widely believed to be the first controlled clinical trial, might have looked like on ClinicalTrials.gov. This year, we’re expanding our scope a little to bring you an interactive timeline of the history of clinical trials.
Click the image to view The History of Clinical Trials interactive timeline.
Imagine for a moment you are a patient considering clinical trial participation. Or perhaps you really are considering clinical trial participation (good for you)! Either way, let’s say you want to understand more about informed consent in clinical trials. If you are like most patients today, you’ll look to a search engine for answers. So go ahead and do that. Head to your favorite search engine and type “informed consent clinical trials.” I’ll wait right here for you to return.
What did you find in the search results?
Here is what we noticed. First, patients have to filter through a lot of information to find what they need. They might find regulatory documents intended for research professionals mixed in with introductory content about informed consent. Second, the introductory content available is primarily static text. This static text is helpful, but it’s not as rich or engaging as it would be if accompanied by visual or interactive media. In short, it’s not easy for patients to educate themselves about informed consent in clinical trials.
Click the image to view the interactive infographic.
Photo by Ryan McGuire from Gratisography.com
Enrolling in a clinical trial is a courageous decision. Research volunteers often take on a significant amount of inconvenience and burden in order to participate. And, unfortunately, they are rarely thanked enough for their contributions to modern medicine. The Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) notes that many participants report feeling “no longer valued” by research staff after the conclusion of their trial.
To help give clinical trial participants more of the recognition they deserve HealthiVibe, Partners in Research, the I’m In Campaign, the Coalition for Clinical Trials Awareness, and PhRMA have planned a series of activities to take place during Clinical Trials Awareness Week (May 4 – 8).
There are three ways you can help celebrate clinical trial participants and bring awareness to clinical research:
- Give a shout out to a clinical research hero through social media using the hashtag #iCHEER4u
- Log on to the Clinical Trial Participation Google Hangout on May 6 from 3:00 – 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
- Participate in the Clinical Trial Awareness Week tweet chat on May 7 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Use the hashtag #CTAW.
2011 Diversity Conference by Oregon Department of Transportation is licensed under CC by 2.0
Failing to recruit a diverse population of patients for clinical trials can have a negative impact on drug research. Last year, Lilly CEO John Lechleiter pointed out in a Forbes editorial that “when clinical trials are skewed toward Caucasians, researchers can miss key interactions between the drug and genes.” It’s unfortunate to think that we may be missing opportunities to create more effective treatments due to these gaps in knowledge and understanding.
National Minority Health Month and National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, observed each year in April, were created to address the issues preventing minorities from having full access to healthcare options. Among the many health-related disparities that minorities face are fewer opportunities to learn about and enroll in clinical research studies. This disparity is most pronounced in the area of cancer.