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Med research participation has benefits

June 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Contrary to popular belief, there are many benefits to participating in medical research.Lynn Crawford was suffering from constant leg pain. But when her doctor suggested she enroll in a medical research study about the condition, she didn't like the idea.

"I thought about it and I thought 'Well I'm not gonna get anything out of this,'" explained Crawford.

Like many people, Lynn felt no personal obligation to participate. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the National Institutes of Health feels very strongly that attitude needs to change.

"Right now our perception is research is dangerous, you don't have to participate. If you do, you're doing something extraordinary or you're contributing to charity," said Dr. Emanuel.

In a report featured in and provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Emanuel says like clean air or national security, medical research is actually a "public good" everyone benefits from and everyone should participate.

"You benefit from the participation of someone before, by getting safer drugs or better information about what works and what doesn't, and therefore you have an obligation to contribute to that common pool of information," said Dr. Emanuel.

An estimated 16 million more people are needed annually for biomedical research. Experts say greater participation will speed up findings on new drugs and procedures with the potential to save lives.

Lynn Crawford eventually decided to join the study and saw improvement in her leg pain, and she went on to enroll in two more.

"I do think that this research will benefit everybody, in the future and for some of us even right now," said Crawford.

The article suggests study participation could increase if physicians did a better job informing their patients about appropriate studies and offering them opportunities to enroll.

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