PARTICIPATION IN CLINICAL STUDIES. OR LACK THEREOF.
As I sit here staring at the rain falling outside my bedroom window I noticed that as quickly as it began it has gone away and the sun is shining. I am sure there is a specific meteorological reasons for this which I have no idea about but it makes me think that as quickly as an injury or ailment comes with the right settings it can be made to go away.
This article is meant as an update to my current participation in local trials here in the United States. Also motivated by recent conversation I had with the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis concerning a clinical trial that I am eligible for through their program. Curiously enough I wondered how many people affected with spinal cord injury are participating in the studies and decided to do some research online. Unfortunately with spinal cord injury research there is not a lot online as far as statistical data to analyze the percentage of participation occurring. I did however find interesting statistics concerning cancer and the participation in clinical trials.
Specifically it showed that a higher percentage of adolescents are participating in clinical trials for cancers and with only a 3 to 5 % participation 10 million adults affected with cancer. I would assume that parents of children with cancer are more likely to attempt experimental trials to save their children as opposed to adults with cancer being willing to subject themselves to the same trials. With research showing that all treatments and breakthroughs we have found were birthed from clinical trials why are more people affected with these diseases contributing their time to assist in finding new treatments? From my own personal experience over the course of the last year and in speaking with other spinal cord injured individuals I’ve come up with some conclusions.
TRUST OR LACK THEREOF
Distrust of the medical system in general seems to be one of the major concerns of individuals with incurable diseases and participation in clinical trials. Mistrust: According to a review conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality mistrust of research and the medical system is a frequently reported barrier to participating in clinical trials.
Most U.S. adults agree that clinical research participants are making a significant contribution to science. However, 49% also feel that clinical trial participants are gambling with their health and are treated like “guinea pigs.” (Counsel)
What leads to these feelings of mistrust from my perspective is lack of knowledge and ignorance of the clinical trial process specifically here in the United States which is governed by the Federal Department of Agriculture “FDA” and heavily scrutinized and is a process that has been proven to provide treatments and output successfully providing specific treatment goals for a spectrum of diseases and injuries. Specifically a majority of these clinical trials are done by private organizations, universities, and are not run by government scientists looking to squeeze information out of our brains. For the most part the government just regulates trials they do not become involved in them.
LACK OF AWARENESS
A national survey of cancer patients found that 85% of respondents were unaware that participating in a clinical trial was a treatment option for them. (Counsel)
With clinical trials regarding spinal cord injury it is almost as if you only hear about them in whispers and or the possibility or I saw this on the Internet or I watch this video etc. it’s difficult to know what trials are available for from the onset of a spinal cord injury because of the traumatic experience. The University of Miami conducts trials for individuals within nine hours of injury but if you’re not in Miami you don’t know about this if you are Miami you may not know about this. The most popular would be the Christopher and Dana Reeve’s Foundation that is thrust upon anyone with a spinal cord injury but for my own personal experience has not offered anything besides a free book.
So how do we go about raising awareness putting this information in the faces and hands of the people affected by these types of injuries to ensure that they know where to go, what to do, what the requirements are, and how they can become involved with clinical trials?
First and foremost people like me and others with spinal cord injury have to help each other. This is a new form of brotherhood that unless we band together will continue to be an incurable one. We must spread the word however we can to others affected by paralysis to ensure they receive correct information and encouragement to participate in trials. Individually we must be prepared to ask for help, ask for donations, put ourselves in uncomfortable situations that allow for us to put together the logistical and economic parts of being a part of these trials.
I implore everyone who knows someone affected with spinal cord injury to encourage them to seek out clinical trials which can be found here: WWW.CLINICALTRIALS.GOV
I’ve noticed a trend in areas that are heavy in spinal cord trials one being the University of California Los Angeles, Ohio, Miami, and for veterans the Bronx VA and James Haley VA in Tampa.
WWW.MIAMIPROJECT.MIAMI.EDU is a great resource as well and allows for walk-ins which I was over a month ago and immediately I was able to become part of the trials going on there.
I plan on going through every one of these trials that I possibly can and with the help of family friends and complete strangers and some blessings from God I will get to them.
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