Everyone would benefit if researchers did more to make participants feel part of a study.
When researchers at the drug giant Pfizer wanted to improve their clinical trials, the people who had taken part had a clear suggestion: researchers should say thank you.
It is a simple request, but a revealing one. When a clinical trial is completed, many participants walk away empty-handed. Most never hear from the investigators or the trial’s sponsor again. Many do not learn the results of the study in which they took part. It’s not good enough — and it indicates a deeper problem.
As we discuss in a News Feature this week, clinical-trial participants and the people who care for them are increasingly seen as partners in research. They are more informed than ever about their conditions and their medical options. And they are demanding — and receiving — more of a say in how clinical trials are designed and conducted. Some of this activity has been boosted by social media, which has allowed people with medical conditions and their carers to band together, share their experiences and advocate for change.