Clinical Research as a Care Option (CRAACO)
What does clinical research as a care option mean?
Let's say you're feeling unwell, so you go to your regular doctor. If they think you need specialized care, they may refer you to a specialist. A team of doctors will work together to find the best treatment plan and medication for you. If everything goes well, you'll be back to your normal routine in no time. But if the treatment doesn't work, you might not realize that clinical research could be available as another option. By making clinical trials accessible to communities and healthcare providers, patients can take advantage of the latest medical advancements and potentially benefit from them.
Information Sharing and Patient Involvement in Clinical Research
Historically speaking, clinical research was only accessible if:
- You had a doctor who and educated in and conducted clinical trials.
- You could physically get to the large, metropolitan hospital or the academic university that was participating in the clinical trial.
- You had the knowledge and option to participate in clinical research.
Barriers existed between the company developing the drug, providers capable of conducting research, and patients who participated in clinical trials. Before the start of the internet and mass information sharing, if you had the desire to access breakthrough medical advancements, you had to not only live near the clinical research site, but your physician also had to have access to and be willing to share clinical trial information in your area of concern.
In today’s constantly evolving information-sharing environment, we are beginning to see a change in the conversation around clinical trials. Patients and loved ones can more easily access information about clinical trials and the research centers involved. Simultaneously, recruitment for clinical trials is extending out from large cities and into communities that have been underrepresented within clinical research.
Drug and device companies utilize social media to advertise and recruit patients who may be interested in clinical trials. With the rate of information sharing increasing, it will only become easier to learn about and participate in clinical research. With increasing patient knowledge, it may become more natural to talk with your doctor about clinical research as a care option for you.
Accessing Clinical Research Trials as a Care Option
Even with the increased use of information sharing via the internet and social media, most of us remain oblivious to the availability of clinical research and how to utilize it as a care option. A national public opinion survey from 2017 stated that [86% of Americans](https://www.researchamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/July2017ClinicalResearchSurveyPressReleaseDeck_0-1.pdf) think a discussion about clinical trials should be a routine part of standard care. This number confirms the barrier—a lack of communication between clinical research that needs to happen and patients that need to receive the care. Even though information sharing is increasing, and patients are more knowledgeable about their health care, there remains a gap in communication between care providers and patients.
People can access their healthcare information online, whether by logging into a portal to review medical claims, find monitor lab results, or access health records. For people wanting to participate in clinical research, the internet can also be used to search for a clinical trial based on a medical condition or a clinical research center near your local community. Patients now have the opportunity to become more informed and know the right questions to ask their healthcare provider before volunteering to participate in a clinical trial.
Changing the Perception of Clinical Trials
In 2017, [81% of Americans](https://www.researchamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/July2017ClinicalResearchSurveyPressReleaseDeck_0-1.pdf) said they were likely to participate in a clinical trial if their doctor recommended it. Information sharing has re-invented how patients see their relationship with drug and device development. Typically, the public has viewed clinical research as a risky decision to participate in. However, the perception toward clinical research is now experiencing a shift as it becomes more apparent that clinical research should be considered as a care option and is more of a necessity to further the development of medicine and healthcare. Clinical research can be used and viewed as an extension of current healthcare plans, especially for patients who suffer from chronic disease or find themselves in a palliative care treatment plan. Current FDA-approved medicines on pharmacy shelves may not be the best option for a patient—by participating in a clinical trial, they can access more treatment options that may have better results.
Advocacy groups are a useful resource for patients seeking an alternative treatment to their current medical health program. For those undergoing a palliative treatment care plan, the National Institute of Health runs a program for supportive and palliative care research. Clinical research provides a different type of care option that is engaging, connected, and accessible.
As the age of online information sharing increases, so too will the availability of clinical research. Through these new information channels, people will become more informed about clinical research, the availability of clinical trials in their area, and how clinical research can be used as a care option.