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Why Should Kids and Families Participate in Medical Research?
by Debra Ross
The phrase "medical research" often brings up images of lab rats being stuck with needles. So when parents and kids start discussing ways that families together can contribute to their communities and society, participating in medical research studies isn't usually the first idea that comes to mind.
But it's a subject about which I, as a mother, feel particularly strong. Medical science has made unprecedented progress just even in the past half-century, but we have a long way to go before the diseases and conditions that plague humanity are eradicated. I have a dream that by the time my grandchildren are grown, we'll have cured cancer, lung disease will be a distant memory, diabetes will cease to plague millions, and we old folks will tell stories of what it was like to suffer congestion from the common cold.
How do we get from now to then? My kids and I are playing our part: We participate in medical research studies when we can. We all like the idea of advancing medicine, but there are several concrete benefits as well.
Benefits of participating in medical research
1. Education about anatomy, diseases, and the way medicine works
This is the part I like best! The scientists, doctors, and nurses who conduct these studies are experts in not only the particular studies themselves, but in how the body works. Without exception, the professionals we have encountered are willing, if not eager, to talk and provide documentation about what the study is trying to determine. It lets my kids get to know their bodies inside and out.
2. Access to free medical care
Participating in medical research studies measures you well! If what is being studied is a condition or a disease, you receive free medical care if you qualify. And if the medical professionals notice something is amiss, this is an easy way to get advice and referrals.
Increased medical surveillance: When you participate in a research study, those who are measuring your physical responses to the study are right on top of all of your biometrics and lab results. In a very real sense, they are more concerned about your results than your primary care physician may be. And they explain to you what that means! So you get to stay on top of the way your body may be changing.
3. Typically, you get paid.
This is the part my kids like best! The remuneration is typically pretty high relative to what my kids are used to receiving for their allowance, so we have taken the opportunity to open bank accounts and learn about saving money. But they always keep some for immediate spending.
The majority of the research trials conducted at RCR are Phase 3 studies, which is the final step before FDA approval. As potential new therapies progress through Phases 1, 2 and 3, they are given to increasing numbers of people; first a few dozen, then a few hundred, and finally to many hundred or even thousands of people. As such, data is amassed regarding a new therapy's safety and effectiveness.
If there is going to be a major health risk to study participants, it is most often discovered in the earlier Phase 1 and 2 studies. This is not to say that participating in clinical research is without risk, but that by participating in community-based Phase 3 clinical research, like that of RCR, the risks are generally minimal. Oftentimes, RCR is actually doing studies of already FDA-approved medications.
Lots of studies are available!
Rochester Clinical Research, located on Helendale Rd, is currently welcoming participants in the following studies. Click on the links below to learn more.
Debra Ross is publisher of KidsOutAndAbout.com.