WASHINGTON, May 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- In honor of Clinical Trials Awareness Week, the Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) has released a new animated "pocket film," Pay it Forward: Volunteering for a Clinical Trial, to encourage clinical trial volunteerism. The five-minute film explains what clinical trials are, their science and methodology, the benefits of participation, and how to learn about trial availability.
A vital part of medical research, clinical trials are studies involving people that evaluate the effects of an experimental test or treatment. Clinical trials cannot happen without volunteer participation. However, clinical trials overall are significantly under-enrolled: 37 percent of trial sites fail to meet their enrollment goals; 11 percent never enroll a single patient.
Under-enrollment is especially significant among older adults, who are those most disproportionately impacted by chronic disease. For example, even though over half of all cancers are diagnosed in people ages 65 and older, 25 percent of cancer-focused clinical trial enrollees are from that age group.
This vast under-enrollment of older adults is due to many factors, including a high likelihood of comorbidity exclusion, perceived financial issues, transportation barriers, and a fear of the science and the system. Also, a lack of awareness about what clinical trials are and how they work plays a large role. In a 2003 survey of cancer clinical trials, 40 percent of surveyed adults said that they did not understand clinical trials. However, after they had a better understanding of them, 32 percent said that they would consider participating.
"We take for granted that many of the successful treatments we have today for heart disease, cancer, infections, and other conditions did not exist 20 to 30 years ago. Those breakthroughs came about because people in previous generations volunteered in clinical trials," says Susan Peschin, MHS, Alliance president and CEO. "It should be incumbent upon all health care providers to dialogue with patients about available clinical trials. But until that happens, we encourage them—along with research centers, disease advocacy organizations, patients, and family caregivers—to use this film as a bridge to start the conversation."
The film features easy-to-understand language that educates patients and caregivers about the importance of clinical trials. It offers care providers a time-saving tool for tackling basic questions and misconceptions patients have about clinical trials. It is ideal for displaying on waiting room monitors, smartphones and tablets in the clinical encounter, and devices and computers at home. The film is available online and for free download.
The film was made possible through a partnership between the Alliance and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA.
The Alliance is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application in order to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health.
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SOURCE Alliance for Aging Research