The idea of medical research tends to bring to mind the idea of people being studied like lab rats from a doctor who tells you nothing about what they are doing or why they are doing it. As a result, people tend to not feel very good towards the idea of participating in a clinical trial. The reality, however, is truly different. While clinical research has had some rather “sketchy” events in its history (i.e. Tuskegee, Nuremburg trials, etc.), There is absolutely no shred of anything like this in the current research model and, in fact, has numerous systems in place to ensure that unethical and unsafe clinical research never again is practiced. Ethics review boards, the FDA, and countless others oversee each new drug, study, and individual site that conducts research.
Moreover, the rights and safety of each individual are dramatically taken into account with each study. Prospective subjects for any study must first be questioned thoroughly to see if there are any potential problems for that individual to take the study drug, or if the rigors of the study might be too much for them to handle. After this initial screening process, all of the information for the specific study (methods, subject’s rights and responsibilities, possible risks for both the study drug and the procedures required for the study, etc.) are outlined and must be agreed on by both the patient and the study doctor before any actual research can be done. The days of subjects being blind “Guinea pigs” are long done and have been replaced with subjects that voluntarily commit to research.
But how does all this actually help people?
The answer is in the fact that there are new drugs being studied and approved for a massive variety of diseases and conditions every year that prove to help in humanities constant fight against illness and disease. These trials are necessary to prove the safety and efficacy of potentially lifesaving pharmaceutical advancements. But moreover, when a subject is part of a study, they gain much more information about their respective diseases and conditions than they would normally from a general healthcare provider so that they can become more informed about their own health. Also, more often than not, there is compensation for those who participate in clinical trials, which makes research the only medical care professionals that pay the patient to come and be treated.
For all these reasons and more, clinical research serves a vital function in the advancement of medical science and in providing aid to the communities that they serve.