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Friday, March 7, 2014
Throughout history medicine has not understood how to give the best care to minority populations. Doctors did not know that health and healthcare needs are different for people who are part of different population groups. In research, medical scientists made serious mistakes. In the "Tuskegee Experiment", nearly 400 poor African American men from Alabama were part of a study that lasted for forty years to observe the health effects of Syphilis. This is a life-threatening infection. When the study started in the 1930s there was no treatment. After World War II penicillin treatment was available, but was not given to the patients in the study. Some patients died who could be treated. This major harm is central to the research protections in place today.
Medicine has made tremendous progress since the Tuskegee experiment. We have learned that there are huge gaps, called health disparities, between population groups. One of the most important areas of research is to discover what causes these disparities and how to fix them. Now, health research is designed to learn about the needs of individual populations to close the disparity gap. African-Americans, for example, have higher rates of high blood pressure than people who are White or Mexican American. Studies with African Americans show doctors how to tailor high blood pressure care specifically for African American patients.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services has exciting national initiative, Healthy People, to improve the health of people across the nation. Together, health leaders, researchers, an organizations identify 10-year national health goals. You can find out about health disparities among different population groups in your state and how they compare to the nation's goals for Healthy People 2010 by visiting Quick Health Data Online.
To learn more see Clinical Trial Diversity: The Need and the Challenge.
Putting all parts of the picture together, researchers find the best ways to prevent, diagnose and treat a medical condition and close the disparity gap. By having research volunteers from all populations we can learn how to give the best care to everyone. You can take part the research studies that matter most to you and your loved ones. To find a research study that is a good fit for you, see the information below.
Whether you are looking for studies on ClinicalTrials.gov or helping researchers find you on ResearchMatch, always keep the following in mind:
1. Your health status - Both healthy volunteers and those with medical conditions are needed in the research effort.
2. Your location - Finding studies close to home is often a requirement to be able to take part.
3. More information about you - Studies are done using groups based on their gender, ethnic group, and age, among other things. What makes you unique is what is needed the most.
Why ResearchMatch? Fact: Recent surveys show that few Americans (less than 5%) know where to find out about research studies that are a good fit for them. Fact: Research volunteers are medical heroes. Why? Because behind every medical breakthrough and new treatment are thousands of people who take part in research studies.
ResearchMatch is one way to help match medical heroes with research studies. How? Think of posting your resume on line. Like a resume helps employers look for people to fill a role in their company, ResearchMatch is your research resume with details about you. This allows researchers to look for volunteers who may be a good fit for their study.
The NetWellness feature ResearchMatch and You - Making a Difference One Discovery at a Time gives a step-by-step guide about how ResearchMatch works and what you can do to take part in research. Once you put the details of your profile in ResearchMatch, it is kept secure. These details will only be shared when you agree to take part in a study.
Many people want to take part in research studies. Finding a study that is the right fit for you or your loved one can be a challenge. ClinicalTrials.gov helps speed up the search by having a list of studies offered in the United States.
The search tool on ClinicalTrials.gov allows you to look for research studies that are as unique as you. This allows you to search by your gender, race, ethnicity, age, and condition. In any search that you do on ClinicalTrials.gov, it is important that you include your city and state in your search so that you can find trials that are happening close to home. The NetWellness feature How to Find a Clinical Research Study/Clinical Trial helps guide you to get the best results for your search.
This article is a NetWellness exclusive.
Last Reviewed: May 16, 2011
Susan Wentz, MD, MS
Director, Area Health Education Center
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University