Clinical trials play a huge role in medical research. As a matter of fact, scientists call medical trials the most reliable testing method for drugs and medical devices.
New research indicates, however, that seniors lack representation in clinical trials, making it difficult to assess if medical treatments or therapy help or harm them.
Lack of Evidence-Based Medicine for the Elderly
While participation in clinical trials shed valuable insights on medical research and treatment for the elderly, data shows that there are gaps in evidence-based medicine for older adults. A study from Tufts University shows that 37% of seniors fail to meet enrollment requirements. Further research reveals that 35% of published trials exclude the elderly.
While others may argue that scientists could conduct clinical trials on the younger population then extrapolate the results, Dr Consuelo Wilkins, associate professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, asserts that various groups respond differently to treatment. Since their physiology is different, seniors are at a higher risk of adverse effects.
A Need for Physician Encouragement in Clinical Trial Participation
Researchers have good reason to consider older adults unsuitable for trials. Taking additional therapy could, after all, compromise their health. On top of that, there is also the issue of requiring a caregiver to provide input about patient progress and treatment during a trial.
There are several clinical trials that seniors can safely participate in, though. Research companies like jeanbrownresearch.com, for instance, offers clinical trials that individuals of all ages can join. Since physicians are at the forefront of medical treatment, they also have the responsibility to proactively engage with patients by encouraging them to sign up to a trial appropriate to them.
Meanwhile, participants have the responsibility to educate themselves on the potential benefits and harm of a research study before signing up.
Older adults experience medical complications more than any other group. By including seniors in clinical trials and overcoming misconceptions about the adverse effects, there is hope of improving the quality of care for the elderly.