Clinical research is everybody's business. It touches us all. Even if we have never been involved in research, even if we have never even heard of research, it affects us. For modern healthcare is built on research.
Everything we do in healthcare, every tablet that is prescribed, every treatment that is given, every test that is performed, every aspect of the care that makes modern medicine so remarkable, has first to be discovered, and then thoroughly evaluated, before it can be put into practice.
Good research allows us to gather good evidence, which in turn, allows us to practise the best medicine. But sometimes, people think that clinical research is just about drug treatments.
While we do use clinical research to help us evaluate drugs, there's a lot more to healthcare than just drugs. Every kind of treatment, including drugs, medical devices, surgical procedures, dietary management and psychotherapies, are all the subject of clinical research. And it's not just about testing brand new treatments. Sometimes it's about re-evaluating older, more established treatments. Or even testing a treatment that is used for one condition in another different disease or in a different group of people.
For example, just because a treatment has been found to be safe and effective in adults does not mean it's automatically safe and effective in children. Unless we do the appropriate testing, unless we do the research, we're working without all the facts.
And sometimes it's not even about treatments at all. For modern healthcare is often about taking an overview of how people live with health and disease. As such, some clinical research is about gaining a new understanding of people's knowledge, their attitudes, expectations and feelings. Clinical research, then, has a broad remit. And all research is relevant because, on a personal level, we never know which particular study will produce the answer that will impact upon our own healthcare decisions.
Pause for a moment. Think about your own health. Have you ever been ill and received a treatment? How was that treatment chosen for you by your healthcare provider? Have you ever been vaccinated? Have you ever taken a medication to prevent becoming ill?
Have you ever had an operation? Have you ever broken a bone or had an x-ray or a blood test? All of these things will have involved choices and decisions by the healthcare staff looking after you. And those decisions were guided by the results of clinical research. Research is not something that affects other people. It affects us all.