AustinPUG Health

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What’s So Important About Clinical Trial Volunteers?

Every year, new medicines are developed and existing ones modified in order to combat a host of medical conditions. These medicines can prevent or treat illnesses, or help people control a long-term condition and improve their quality of life.

Whenever a medicine is first developed or reformulated, the manufacturer is required by regulation to make sure that it’s safe to use. That’s where clinical trial volunteers play a vital role, one that can make a difference to thousands of people.

img Clinical Trial ID 4088 Developing New Treatments And The Importance Of Clinical Trial VolunteersThese early stage clinical trials are typically conducted at a special clinical research unit, not at the doctors office. The clinical research unit often looks like a small hospital with sleeping, eating and socialising facilities. They are staffed by trained doctors, nurses and other medical specialists.

A common concern for prospective volunteers is the risk involved in taking part in a clinical trial. Very few things in life are risk-free, and a small element of risk does exist in volunteering for clinical trials. Your safety is the primary concern of the clinical research unit; subsequently, clinical trials operate under very strict safety procedures, and the entire clinical trial process is designed to minimise risk.

Are There Any Specific Requirements for Healthy Volunteers?

Sometimes the trial will call for specific groups of people, such as men between the age of 18 and 35 or women over the age of 50. Other trials will look for a wider range of volunteers; it all depends on the medicine and what it’s meant to do. On some trials, smoking is permitted within designated areas, but on others, where it may affect the results of the clinical trial, it’s not allowed. Smokers who are considering volunteering should be fully aware of this. Not everyone is eligible to be a clinical trial volunteer. Anyone wishing to volunteer will first have to undergo a screening visit for a specific study. This is basically a medical examination to ensure the person’s in good general health. Those people who don’t pass the screening visit may not be eligible to volunteer for a particular clinical trial or any clinical trial. The clinical research unit will provide the necessary guidance on eligibility. Volunteers can only take part in one clinical trial at a time. Once they’ve completed a trial, a waiting period of three months needs to go by before they can participate in another one.

Do Volunteers Get Paid?

Volunteers can expect to be paid between £500 and £3000. The amount paid is directly proportionate to the length of the trial period, which can be as little as a single day or as long as a month or more. In addition to this, clinical trial volunteers may also receive a stipend for travel expenses. This covers the cost of transport to the clinical research unit and back home again.

How Long Does It Take?

The commitment required can vary; often you will be expected to make yourself available for between three days and four weeks. Sometimes, all or a part of this time will be spent inside the clinical research unit, in much the same way as a hospital patient would stay in a ward but with plenty of entertainment facilities provided such as games consoles and internet access. Many people use this time to read, complete a distance learning program or to work on a project. Once inside the facility, your time is largely your own.

About the Author: This post was written by Nick Davison, Nick writes on a number of topics including Health, Psychology, and Medical Development.


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