May 20th is International Clinical Trials Day! Each year we pause to acknowledge the major improvements in health outcomes that have come thanks to clinicians who are dedicated to finding answers to important clinical questions and members of the community who participate in clinical trials.
In Australia, clinical trials run here benefit Australian patients because they allow faster access to new treatments. They also bring health professionals together to deliver better care for patients, while Australia’s scientists, doctors, nurses and specialists also benefit through their exposure to the very latest methods of treatment.
In particular, the day commemorates when James Lind began his trials into the causes of scurvy.
Lind’s experiments in 1747 were run under very different conditions to today. Serving as a surgeon on the HMS Salisbury, his trial consisted of just 12 men, grouped into pairs and given a variety of dietary supplements from cider to oranges and lemons.
The trial only lasted six days but, within that time, there was a noticeable improvement in the group eating the fruit, providing Lind with evidence of the link between citrus fruits and scurvy.
Clinical trials have come a long way since Lind’s discovery!
For more on how clinical trials are funded CLICK HERE for our Infographic.
Why be part of a clinical trial?
New interventions that help people to live longer, have less pain or be free of disability are only possible because of the willingness of people to participate in clinical trials. Both healthy participants and those diagnosed with a disease or condition are needed to help find new ways to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure disease and disability. If more people are involved in clinical trials, it may reduce the time it takes to make new interventions widely available.
By taking part in a clinical trial, you can contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge and, in some cases, to improved health for yourself or others with the same disease or condition.
Australia conducts internationally recognised high-quality clinical trials. Australian clinical researchers have a wealth of knowledge and expertise that is helping to improve health care both in Australia and around the world. Clinical research also improves our health care service by improving patient care practices.
Why be part of a trial if you are healthy
Healthy people may choose to participate in order to help others, to contribute to improved health care or to contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Sometimes they have a personal interest in the specific trial or they might have a friend or family member with the disease or condition.
Like any volunteer work, clinical trials can also be a way to give back to the community.
Although volunteering to help improve the lives of family, friends or others is an extraordinary gesture of kindness, potential participants should think carefully about the demands on their time and the risks and benefits (if any) before enrolling in a clinical trial.
Why be part of a trial if you have a disease or condition
Patient participants with a disease or condition may decide to participate in clinical trials to contribute to better understanding of, or better treatment or a potential cure for their disease or condition. In some cases, clinical trials can provide access to new interventions before they are widely available.
Trials also offer the hope of developing better interventions or tests for a particular disease or condition, so that even if a trial does not provide a benefit for an individual, it may provide benefits for others with the disease in the future.
As a patient participant, even when you receive the highest quality care, you may also benefit from additional support and attention provided by clinical trial staff who understand your disease or condition.
For more information on possible GI Cancer trials you could participate in please contact your medical oncologist or specialist.
CC image courtesy of Rego Korosi on Flickr.