What Seniors Need to Know About Clinical Trials

Patients diagnosed with a condition or disease are sometimes informed by their health care practitioner of a clinical trial related to their illness.  Although there are no guarantees of a cure or even improvement, participating in a clinical trial may offer people a sense of playing an active role in caring for their own health.

Seniors are needed to participate in research to achieve a broad sample of how a drug or other therapy may work on people of all ages including older adults.  They may react differently to drugs, require different dosages or have side effects not found with younger patients.

Clinical trials allow medical advances to take place and in some cases, participants may receive new treatments that are not widely available.  Seniors need to ensure they are healthy enough to participate in the study and have reliable transportation.  It is also important to know going in what the possible side effects may include,  that you may be part of a control group put on a placebo drug and what the time commitment may involve.

Seniors with memory problems or symptoms of dementia should have a trusted caregiver accompany them to any meetings with researchers or doctors to ensure the all the information is properly understood and questions are answered.

Good Questions to Ask Before Entering a Trial

  • What is the goal of the study?
  • What treatments or drugs will I receive?
  • What are the risks?
  • How long is the trial?
  • Where will I be required to travel?  Are there hospital stays involved?
  • Is there any cost?
  • How will the study effect my health and current medications?
  • Will I still see my regular doctor during the study?
  • Who do I call if I have more questions?

To learn more about what is involved in clinical trials visit Health Canada at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/med/clinical_trials-essais_cliniques-eng.php .

To search for studies currently recruiting participants, visit http://ClinicalTrials.gov for more information.

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