Craving better health

The first time I participated in a research study was back in 1985. Prior to that, it had never crossed my mind that research participation would be important. I was young, healthy, and frankly … naïve.

Rose on her way to see the doctor, 1985

Rose on her way to see the doctor, 1985

Our first child had been born prematurely after years of trying to conceive. At my first prenatal appointment for our second child, my doctor asked if I would consider enrolling me and our unborn child in a research study sponsored by the March of Dimes.

My doctor was a specialist in high risk pregnancy at Ohio State and he told me that participating in this study might save lives in the future by helping scientists understand and prevent premature labor and births. I decided to enroll in the study, and years later I am so glad that I did.

After working in research study recruitment all these years, I now understand how breakthroughs in research have come from studies like the one I volunteered for 28 years ago. Studies like the one I volunteered for have led to the development of tests and therapies (like PKU tests, surfactant, and nitric oxide) that are saving thousands of babies and have become standard.

Once enrolled, I was randomized into a “control” group that meant my prenatal appointments would use the normal standard of care at the time. If I had been placed in the “intervention” group, my prenatal appointments would have included more frequent visits to the doctor and additional evaluations to see if the extra care would help to prevent premature labor and/or birth.

The study was not a substitute for my normal clinical care, and I was still well cared for even though I was participating in a research study. After my first experience of participating in a research study, I became more aware of how much researchers need volunteers of all kinds.

I have since enrolled our children in several research studies, including one in which both were controls in a grief study that was evaluating children who had lost both parents at an early age. Our children enjoyed answering the questions and knowing that they might help orphaned children. They even received a small stipend for their contribution to the study.

Currently my husband and I frequently volunteer for research studies examining health issues that we find interesting. I have participated in a couple dozen studies over the years, ranging from single visit studies to research studies that have continued for several years. I have served as a “healthy volunteer,” as well as research studies specifically looking for volunteers with a medical history like mine.

There are studies out there for every person, of every age and health status. The most important people on the research team for any study are the volunteers. Without research study volunteers, it doesn’t matter how brilliant a researcher’s theories may seem.

Research study volunteers provide the information needed for new discoveries, treatments and sometimes even cures for diseases. Participating in that first research study back in 1985 opened my eyes to the importance of being a research study volunteer.

Research is our best hope for treating and preventing conditions that affect the health of everyone. Understanding this inspires me to continue volunteering for research studies and become part of the answer.


Rose Kegler Hallarn research recruitment program director

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Categories: Opportunities to Participate in Research, The Participant's Point of View

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