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Clinical Trial Myths - what is true and what is not

Clinical Trial Recruitment became a hot topic. More and more research organisations are touting for the same patients to join their trials.

There are a few urban legends around clinical trials which can be a reason for patients not joining trials. In this article, we concentrate on the myths and what researchers can do about it to recruit more patients for their trials.

1. The patient’s doctor should make the decision

Believe it or not, but many people think that their doctor should make the decision for them to join a clinical trial. A huge opportunity of potential subjects gets lost through this thinking. Fact is, only the patient can make this decision!

What can researchers do?

Actively address patient groups, online, as well as in the community and talk about clinical trials, the benefits and why the family doctor or general practitioner does not need to be involved in this decision.

2. Clinical trials are dangerous

Yes, drugs or treatments in clinical trials are new, but that doesn’t mean that participating in a clinical trial is unsafe. As you know, subjects get special medical attention during trials and are closely monitored.

What can researchers do?

Clearly communicate the benefits of joining a clinical trial. Speak about the IRB approval process, speak about the medical attention and monitoring and also tell potential subjects that they’re getting informed about every single concern, side effect or risks researchers discover - before AND during the study. You can also refer to subjects that completed a trial.

3. I will anyway get a placebo.

Some people don’t participate in trials because they fear that they are not getting the actual treatment, but the placebo. As you know, not every trial involves a placebo - this is specifically true if the study’s research area is around a serious illness, like cancer.

Often, studies will compare a standard treatment PLUS a placebo with a standard treatment PLUS the new investigational treatment.

Unfortunately, for some conditions and diseases there is no effective treatment yet. To research those, there is the probability that an actual treatment is being tested against a placebo.

What can researchers do?

Inform, Inform, Inform! Don’t assume that everyone has the same knowledge as you have. Tell potential subjects exactly what is going on in your trial and that if there is a chance of getting a placebo or no. If there is no placebo involved, you can also think about using this as an advertisement for your trial.

4. Being in a clinical trial is expensive and health insurance won’t cover it!

Very rarely patients are faced with costs in a clinical trial. Costs that occur in a clinical trial are usually patient care costs and research costs. As for the latter, research costs, these are usually paid for by the Sponsor of the trial. Patient care costs are normally not paid for by the sponsor, but by health insurance. Usually they involve x-rays, doctor visits, hospital stays etc.

What can researchers do?

Communicate the costs of the trial for the patient (if any) and clearly communicate which health plans you’re accepting.

5. There are no benefits to participate in a clinical trialTrial subjects often get the opportunity to benefit from new drugs and latest treatment methods. Apart from that, patients might also get satisfaction out of the thought that they helped research to develop a new drug or treatment method.

What can researchers do?

Think carefully about the potential benefits of the trial and communicate them to potential subjects. The more benefits for the patients, the more likely it is that they will join your trial.

As you can see - it all comes down to communication. If you need help to communicate effectively to potential subjects, let us know.


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