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Americans Believe in the Promise of Research

Last Updated on Monday, August 05, 2013

Majority of Americans Would Participate in Clinical Trials if Recommended by Their Doctor

"Most Americans believe in the promise of research and are willing to share their personal health data to advance research; yet for many years now the percentage of people who participate in clinical trials has remained incredibly low," said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America.
 
Compared to other ways volunteers contribute to the health of society, clinical trial participation is neither as visible nor as much admired. When asked how much they admire volunteers, nearly 70% say they admire organ donors a great deal, followed by admiration for people who give blood (61%); clinical trial volunteers are admired by only 37%.

In recent meetings with experts from minority health organizations, we have learned that there are cultural differences regarding attitudes toward medical research. For instance, African-Americans are often more distrustful of medical research and Latinas require more family involvement in decision-making.

A recent article of the Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR) makes the point that historically, biomedical scientists and researchers have preferred studying male subjects for a variety of reasons including:

  • The desire both to protect a woman's potential fetus (regardless of whether she is pregnant, uses contraceptives, or intends to conceive) and to avoid legal liability from prenatal exposure.
  • The potentially confounding effects of women's hormonal changes.

SWHR broke down these rationales and sought to have it understood by the scientific community that:

  • The logic that the exclusion of women protects them (or their potential fetuses) is problematic in that protecting women from exposure during research means that women's exposure to a drug being tested is merely delayed until the drug is released and on the market.
  • The fact that a woman's physiology does change throughout her hormonal cycle makes the study of the impacts of these changes crucial.

Read about barriers to participation of women in clinical trials and SWHR proposed solutions here.

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