Written by MindMate Staff
Lack of participation is a problem which has long hindered the progress of clinical trials the world over, but what is the reason for this? Many people who suffer from genetic conditions or have exhausted current treatment options for their conditions willingly volunteer for clinical trials. However, for those who don’t view them as a personal necessity, the prospect can be daunting. Given that the majority of the population don’t suffer from genetic conditions and have likely pursued other treatment options for more common illnesses, it is easy to see why clinical trials can struggle to recruit.
The main reason people don’t participate in clinical trials is lack of awareness, many people don’t realise what studies involve or may not be aware of their overall purpose and how they fit into them. A common misconception about clinical trials is that participants are simply treated as “guinea pigs”; many believe that they are going to be the first subject of a particular drug, when in fact the drugs used in clinical trials have been studied extensively beforehand. For those who are informed, they have reported having an overall positive experience during the process. Clinical trials are designed so that there is always a dedicated team on hand to ensure you understand what the study entails and to support you through every stage of it.
Some explanation as to why some participate and others don’t can be put down to fear of the unknown. On health related issues, many people don’t want to take any chances and need to be absolutely sure that they know the details beforehand. Others, especially those with a personal stake in a particular treatment, simply want to try it out for themselves to see the drugs efficacy for their condition. Better information regarding what is involved in clinical trial participation is down to doctors engaging with patients who may be interested in enrolling. Many doctors aren’t aware of trials that may be applicable to their patients either, resulting in low participation.
The final and most crucial factor in patients deciding whether to participate in clinical trials or not is often the compensation. When dealing with insurance companies, it is often unclear who will pay for a patient’s participation, there is also the fear that the insurance company will not cover the cost of a new or experimental treatment. On top of this, the clinical trial site may be too far to travel for many potential participants. Even if they are completely willing to participate, they may be unwilling or unable to make a long journey to the site. Overall, the benefits of participating in a clinical trial far outweigh the drawbacks, but the only way to increase participation is to increase awareness among potential candidates.