This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Clinical Trials

I often see random flyers recruiting candidates for sponsored programs to quit smoking or lose weight. I question their legitimacy (I suspect some are scams), but the WSJ had an interesting article about the benefits of some clinical trials, sometimes for free:

The range of benefits on offer may come as a surprise given the common belief that clinical trials are for desperate patients seeking experimental therapies. But clinical trials represent a remarkable opportunity for the rest of us to gain access to top doctors and care that might not otherwise be available.
Not only do doctors doing clinical research pay fastidious attention to every complaint and comment of the study subject, but they also often conduct comprehensive health screenings with far more follow-up than many patients get from their family physicians.

However, the article cautions that, "Clinical trials aren't a substitute for regular medical care, and they don't solve the problems of people who don't have health insurance." If you are considering participating in a trial, make sure you perform adequate due diligence beforehand:

To be sure, any patient thinking about taking part in a clinical trial needs to assess the risk of the study and the credibility of the researchers involved. Participants in trials should be given detailed informed-consent statements and have the opportunity to ask as many questions as they like. Credible research studies are conducted in obvious health-care or university settings. Any trial that uses experimental treatments, drugs or seems to carry even a minimal risk should be vetted by a trusted health professional who doesn't have a personal stake in the research.

If you want to search for trials on the Internet, is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, listing NIH-funded trials around the country. Another clinical listing trial service mentioned in the article is CenterWatch, which has a list of IRB (Institutional Review Board?) approved clinical trials being conducted internationally.

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