Tips for Searching for Clinical Trials as a Caregiver
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Tips for Searching for Clinical Trials as a Caregiver

If you are a caregiver, you aren’t alone; according to the Caregiver Action Network, over 65 million people in the U.S. (about 29% of the population) provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member or friend. The role caregivers play is different for everyone, whether it involves helping with a few tasks or full-time, live-in care. Across this spectrum, it’s clear that caregiving is essential for our communities and deserves recognition and support.   Caregivers help their loved ones in many ways, but one that may not come to mind at first is finding clinical trials. Enrolling the person you are caring for in a clinical trial can help them find new ways to manage their health, while also benefiting others with the same condition. If you’re interested in learning more about how clinical trials work and your role in finding a trial as a caregiver, the information in this article can help you get started.   What You Should Know About Clinical Trials  Before we explore more details about finding clinical trials as a caregiver, we should first discuss what clinical trials are.  A clinical trial is the process of testing a new treatment option, such as a medication or device. Trials happen in different phases, starting with smaller groups and progressing to larger ones. Throughout every step of the process, researchers follow strict standards to make sure they collect accurate data and keep participants safe. If the trial shows the new treatment is effective, it can be approved to become available to more people.   What does this mean for your loved one? Clinical trials often provide access to treatments that are not available anywhere else, giving them a new option to manage their condition. In addition to the personal benefits, taking part in a trial is also a valuable gift to others with the same condition. It gives hope for new treatment options that wouldn’t be possible without research.   How to Find a Clinical Trial Once you’ve decided that you’re interested in a clinical trial for someone close to you, the next step is exploring trials that could be a good fit. The process can seem overwhelming at first, but the good news is that there are many resources that can guide your journey and support you along the way.   Your loved one’s doctor is a great starting point for discussing clinical trials. Although not all doctors are involved in clinical trials, they will be able to answer some of your questions about the process and how it could fit with any current treatment(s). In some cases, they could recommend a trial that they are involved in or familiar with.   Even if your loved one’s doctor is not involved in trials, there are still many ways to find options. Sites like Carebox, Antidote, and ClinicalTrials.gov are great resources for searching for trials. You can look based on a condition and see key details about the trials within these tools.   From Searching to Finding the Right Fit  During this process, there are many elements to consider when deciding whether a trial is a good fit for the person in your care.   Each trial has different rules for who can participate. This may include how far along the disease is, whether your loved one has or does not have certain symptoms, other conditions, age, and a variety of other factors. Be sure to have their medical history available as you search. If you have any questions about whether a trial could be a good fit, reach out to the contact for that trial. They can talk through requirements with you and give you more details about the kind of participants the trial is looking for.   You should also consider the impact participation may have on you as a caregiver. Is the trial nearby? Will you need to travel to take your care recipient to appointments? Are there options to participate from home? This can help you plan to make sure participating is manageable not only for your loved one, but also for you. Many organizations in the clinical research community are working to improve access. The trial organizers may be able to point you in the direction of resources to help make participation easier, such as patient advocacy networks or support groups for caregivers.  Answers to Your Clinical Trial Questions Throughout the process of finding trials for someone in your care, communication is key. If you have questions, be sure to speak up. Researchers understand the key role participants play, and they should support you in finding the answers you need.   Our Resource Library is also a valuable tool for finding more information about clinical trials. Whether you are actively searching for trials for your loved one or are just starting to look into clinical research, you can make a life-changing impact by learning more and spreading the word.  

Redefining Clinical Trial Accessibility in the Age of DCTs
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Redefining Clinical Trial Accessibility in the Age of DCTs

You want to increase clinical research participation, but access issues keep getting in the way. How can people take part in clinical trials if they don’t know about them, can’t physically reach them, or don’t have the resources to participate remotely?   Uncover solutions to the research accessibility problem in the Clincial Trials For All discussion, “Redefining Clinical Trial Accessibility in the Age of DCTs.” Featuring Lightship patient advocacy and patient experience experts Samantha Eells, Sabina Kineen, Mel Mann, and Allison Rosen and hosted by Alec McChesney, director of business development at SCORR Marketing, this discussion is a must-watch for anyone interested in making research more equitable, diverse, and widespread.   Watch the recording now to explore:  

Different Types of Clinical Research and What They Mean for You 
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Different Types of Clinical Research and What They Mean for You 

Without clinical research, there would be no new treatments, no improvements in our understanding of how diseases work, and no new options for prevention. In short, clinical research is essential.  Not all research is the same. There are two broad types: observational and investigational. They each have different goals and work in different ways, but they both rely on people like you to participate and spread the word.   Read on for an overview of observational and investigational clinical research and learn how you can get involved.   Observational Research: Observing Health Patterns  Observational research gathers data and looks for patterns. If participants have a medical condition, they will continue their usual treatment plan during an observational study. Participants in this type of research do not receive new treatments. Instead, researchers observe and record various data, depending on the goal of the study, while the participants keep their general routine the same.   Participation may involve filling out a survey, meeting with a researcher for an interview, or providing a blood or tissue sample.   Types of Observational Studies  Who Can Participate?   Each observational study will have unique requirements based on what the researchers are interested in. In many cases, both healthy volunteers and people with a specific condition are needed.   Since observational research does not require you to take a new medication or change your routine, you can often participate in multiple observational studies at one time.   Why Does Observational Research Matter?  Observational clinical research provides essential information about how diseases work and what risk factors could be. Each new study gives more information, and it takes many studies over a long period of time to clarify possible links between behaviors and diseases.   What does this mean in the real world? For one, it can help people make more informed decisions about their lifestyles to have a better chance of staying healthy. Recommendations like increasing physical activity, maintaining a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking all have their roots in observational research.   Observational studies can also identify factors outside of an individual’s control that increase the chance of developing a certain disease. This gives doctors the information they need to screen for those conditions sooner, potentially improving and saving lives.   Investigating Research: New Treatments  Whereas observational research gathers information about health, investigational research (i.e., clinical trials) puts this information into practice and tests new ways to prevent, diagnose, manage, and cure diseases.   During a clinical trial, researchers monitor participants to ensure safety and track whether the new treatment works correctly. Depending on the trial, participants may go to a specific location (a trial site) to receive treatment, or a health care professional may monitor them while they undergo treatment at home.   Clinical Trial Phases  Clinical trials have four phases, and each serves a specific purpose.   Who Can Participate?   Like observational research, different trials look for various traits among participants. Along with looking for people with the health condition the treatment will target, clinical trials may have other requirements depending on the specific goals.   The phase of the trial also changes who can participate. Phase I trials often involve healthy volunteers, as this gives the opportunity to study safety before involving those whose disease may make them more likely to have negative effects.   Why Does Investigational Research Matter?  Any advancement in medicine that you can think of owes its creation to clinical trials, from the most common over-the-counter medications to innovative treatments for serious conditions. Investigational research is essential to determine what treatments are safe and effective. Clinical trials can also provide options for those who don’t have many other treatment choices, like those with rare diseases.   Ready to Get Involved?   Whether you’re interested in taking part in observational or investigational research, you have the power to make a real difference for the future of medicine. You can ask your doctor about studies or trials that may be right for you, or you can use an online tool like Carebox, Antidote, or ClinicalTrials.gov to start your search.   And if participating directly isn’t the right choice for you now, that’s okay too! You still can do your part by sharing information and staying informed. You never know who in your network could benefit from this knowledge.  

Give the Gift of Health Through Clinical Trial Participation 
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Give the Gift of Health Through Clinical Trial Participation 

How do you give back? Whether you volunteer your time, donate to causes you believe in, or help your community in other ways, doing your part feels good. As you think of ways to make a difference, clinical research may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, you may be shocked to learn just how much of an impact participating in a trial has.   Clinical Research Changes Lives  Clinical research is the process of making sure new medical discoveries are safe and effective. Participants — everyday people who either have a medical condition or who participate as healthy volunteers — make this process possible.  When you participate in clinical research, you can be a part of:   These positive effects ripple throughout communities. As a clinical trial participant, you can give the gift of health to a wide range of people. A new treatment that you contribute to through clinical research could save or improve the life of a friend or family member; it could also help a stranger across the country or make life better for future generations.   Paying It Forward  Even as clinical trials continue to improve medicine, the sad truth is that many people still can’t get the care that a lot of us may take for granted. Imagine if you could be a part of developing new treatments while also improving vaccine access for children in need. By participating in a clinical trial that partners with Greater Gift, you can do just that.   Greater Gift is a non-profit that spreads awareness of the benefits of clinical research and expresses gratitude for everyone involved in the process. They pay the gift of health forward by giving vaccines to children in developing countries through Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance. Greater Gift also partners with Feeding America to provide meals for children facing hunger. Through the clinical operations giving program, researchers can choose to donate on behalf of participants or other contributors.   Make an Impact on Global Health  If you are a research sponsor, partnering with Greater Gift can extend the impact of your trial. Showing gratitude makes a big difference for clinical trial participants. After all, these volunteers make research possible, and a simple thank you goes a long way in showing them you appreciate their contribution. When you pair this gratitude with a donation that pays their impact forward, it has an even greater effect.   If you are a potential clinical trial participant, you can help Greater Gift by increasing awareness of their mission. You can also donate to boost Greater Gift’s reach in bringing clinical research to more underrepresented communities. This work is only possible with the help of donors and sponsors.   A great place to start getting familiar with research is through our resource library. We’ve collected information from a variety of sources from trial participants to national health organizations and put it in one convenient place. Once you’ve learned more about how clinical research works, spread the word with our shareable assets. These graphics make it easy to amplify awareness among your friends, family, and professional network. It only takes a few minutes, but the effect can be significant.  

Improving Your Access to Clinical Trials — And Why It Matters
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Improving Your Access to Clinical Trials — And Why It Matters

By: Scott Stout, MedVector Think of the biggest medical breakthroughs of the modern era. Anything you can name, from the end of smallpox to the recent development of COVID-19 vaccines, owes its existence to clinical research.   Clinical research uncovers new or improved treatments for both rare and common conditions, and clinical trials confirm their efficacy and safety in humans. Both clinical research and clinical trials are essential for moving medicine forward, saving lives, and increasing quality of life for you, your loved ones, and your community.   By understanding what clinical research is, why it matters, and how to break down barriers to participation, you can become part of this essential process of discovery. And why should you consider it? Participating in a clinical trial can help improve the health of people everywhere, and it’s easier than you may think.   What Is Clinical Research?   Clinical research is a scientific process that examines new treatment options and/or new observations about health and illness in people. Clinical research can also include observational studies. These studies look at medical data and/or biological samples, but do not test new treatments. Then, through clinical trials, researchers confirm potential benefits and identify risks of new drugs and therapies before making them available to the public.   The clinical trial process happens in phases. Every step of the way, researchers must follow strict standards to prove efficacy and patient safety. Once a clinical trial demonstrates a new treatment is safe and effective, patients everywhere can begin to access its benefits.   Why Are Clinical Trials Important? Clinical trials are the backbone of medical progress. They take discoveries from the lab into practice, bringing the latest developments in medicine and technology to communities like yours. Without clinical trials, medicine simply couldn’t evolve, and, more importantly, treatments that save and improve lives wouldn’t be able to reach the people who need them.  How You Benefit From Clinical Trials   The benefits of clinical trials for science as a whole are clear, but what about the benefits for people who participate in these trials?   Clinical trial participants benefit in many ways. You:   Barriers to Clinical Trial Accessibility   If clinical trials are so essential, why have 91% of Americans never participated in one?  Some barriers to trial access and participation include:   But what if the doctors you already know and trust could offer clinical trials as a care option? Even considering the barriers to clinical research, studies suggest 75% of patients would participate in a clinical trial if it were recommended by their doctor. Knowing this, an obvious conclusion to patient-centric participation in clinical research is … our doctors.   However, not all doctors want to get involved in research, and the ones that attempt to do so typically stop. Underenrollment, paperwork, and strict compliance guidelines create additional work, requiring doctors to dedicate a significant portion of their resources to keep running trials, let alone be profitable.   Why Don’t Doctors Just Refer Their Patients to Clinical Trials? In a perfect world, doctors would refer their patients into clinical trials, but even after addressing the awareness problems, several factors prevent this:   Clinical Trials as a Care Option  We know that patients want to hear about clinical trials from their trusted doctors, but current avenues to provide access are not ideal: either become an investigator or refer a patient (customer) to another doctor. So how do we bridge this gap and align the interests of patients, clinical trial sites, and treating physicians?   A decentralized clinical trial (DCT) gives patients access to clinical trials from alternative locations, such as their home or local clinic, but in an industry that values “caution” over “innovation,” the process of putting DCTs into practice has been painfully slow.  At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine, a decentralization tool in the telehealth family, became common practice and has continued to be widely used. Telehealth is the delivery of health care services or monitoring by video, messaging, or other options that don’t require a physical visit to a doctor’s office. A unique benefit for clinical research is that telehealth enables a patient to be in two places at once: physically at their doctor’s office, while virtually at a clinical trial site. This concept allows patients to access advanced medicines from a variety of locations including, not only treating physician’s offices, but also local labs or pharmacies.  Even more importantly, by enabling treating physicians to “host” clinical trial appointments from their local practice, it reduces the referral concerns of patient leakage, lost revenue, and control of care. Under this model, patients have increased access to research while their doctors become part of the referral, continuing to be the primary caregiver for the patient.  Get Involved in Clinical Research  If you’re a patient interested in moving the needle toward clinical research as a care option, you can start by talking to your doctor. Ask them if they’re familiar with clinical trials and if they’re aware of the new technologies bringing them to local communities like yours. Even if they aren’t currently involved in research, this question could spark your doctor’s natural curiosity and pave the way for future access to new care options, which is good for everyone!   Our website also has a variety of resources for you to explore, including tools to search for trials near you. As clinical research continues to evolve and become more accessible, you can help be part of the future of medicine by getting involved.