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What is Clinical Research, Really?
While earning my graduate degree in public health, some of what I learned about clinical research included the different phases of clinical studies, the ethics behind the regulations, and how to run statistical analyses on data collected.
It was an area of public health that was not on my radar, and to be honest, it seemed ‘dry” and “boring”. I did not understand the gravity of this work and the impact clinical research can have on the lives of individuals suffering with disease.
Fast forward three years later, and I am now on the front lines of clinical research involved in patient recruitment, helping patients find clinical studies and helping drug developers find participants for their studies to collect the data needed to obtain approval for new therapies from the FDA. As a professional in the world of clinical research, I now know that every study can be life changing.
Take for example a 65-year old former tennis player with chronic knee pain debilitating enough to prevent her from exercising. Now overweight, this former athlete suffers from diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure as a result of her physical inactivity. Clinical trials offer hope to patients like her who have had their lives interrupted by disease, often creating a cascade effect into many other areas including overall happiness and well-being. They do so by providing access to treatment options that exist only in a clinical trial and by advancing the development of therapies that can benefit millions of people worldwide.
I have learned that everyone who takes part in the clinical research process, be it patients, providers, or researchers, have the ability to improve the lives of others. Clinical research is unique because there is potential benefit for everyone involved and no need to argue with insurance companies, as all study-related medical care is provided to patients at no cost. Despite the advantages of participating in clinical trials, patient recruitment remains the largest hurdle for all clinical trials, which increases the cost and the time required to bring new drugs and treatments to market.
I feel we owe it to our fellow citizens around the globe to do our best job possible in recruiting research participants, collecting high-quality data quickly, and ensuring everyone involved in the clinical research process has the best experience possible. I was told when I started with my company that I needed to become a “numbers person” and ensure enrollment goals were met. As someone with a science and nursing background, this seemed foreign to me. However, I am proud to say that now I am a numbers person because I have learned that the number of patients that we enroll contributes directly to finding possible preventions, treatments and cures for current and future patients. There is absolutely nothing “dry” or “boring” about that!
Rachel L.D. Truxall is AVP, Patient Engagement at Accel Research Sites.
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