Common myths, part 1

There are a lot of myths out there about participating in clinical research studies. Blair has made it her mission to dispel some of the most common ones in a three part series. Part 2 | Part 3

Myth: I’m a pretty healthy person and don’t have any diseases or conditions, so I’m not eligible to participate in research studies.

There are hundreds of research studies that need participants of all types, including healthy volunteers.
In order to understand what happens in those with certain diseases or conditions, researchers often include a “control group,” made up of healthy volunteers. When researchers understand what happens in people who do not have a certain disease or condition, then they can try to figure out what happens “differently” in people who do have it.

Understanding what is different about someone with a disease or condition can help researchers learn what might be causing it to happen. Once this is understood, it can help researchers focus on what can be done to prevent, treat, or even cure the problem.

Myth: I’m too old to volunteer for a research study.

Age doesn’t matter. Isn’t it nice to know that participating in research studies is one place where this statement actually rings true?

Sometimes age prevents us from doing things in life (i.e., getting a driver’s license, voting, running for President, or even playing in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese – who doesn’t miss that?), but volunteering for a research study is not one of them.

In fact, research studies need volunteers of all ages, genders, races, religions, sizes and shapes. The more diversity there is in the research study volunteer pool, the easier representing the general population becomes, which helps make research more accurate and valuable.

Myth: I’m part of a minority group, they don’t really need me in studies do they?

Researchers need all different types of people to volunteer for research. Some illnesses occur much more frequently and progress at different rates in certain populations. Gender, age, race and ethnic background affect the way people respond to treatments.

African Americans are more likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, HIV infection, asthma, and breast and prostate cancers. Different levels of certain enzymes in Asians, combined with cultural and dietary differences, can affect their response to a drug. In essence, what we learn about one gender or ethnicity does not always apply for another.

To fully understand how to diagnose, treat or cure a disease or condition in a particular person, research needs to consider how diversity affects people’s health. Understanding this helps to ensure that health care professionals learn the right way to provide personalized care for each individual.


Blair Gonsenhauser research recruitment coordinator

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

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