I always see ads on my Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds, hear ads on the radio and have even seen ads for clinical research studies on billboards in my city.  Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what a clinical research study was all about and why someone like me would participate.  Then recently, I was at my doctor’s office and I saw a flyer in the waiting room for a study that was being conducted by my doctor and his staff.  This was the perfect opportunity for me to find out more about what happens in these studies and if is something that I should seriously consider.

clinical trial participation

My doctor was able to tell me a lot about the study that he was conducting.  The study for was people with high cholesterol, and coincidentally, I do have high cholesterol.  My doctor has been telling me to focus on diet and exercise, but I’m not as good as I should be and my cholesterol levels haven’t come down as he was hoping.  Of course, there are current treatment options available for those with high cholesterol, but my doctor is conducting this clinical trial for a new potential treatment for those with high cholesterol that may provide better results with fewer side effects.  Since my cholesterol levels are not extremely high and my doctor believes that I am not yet in a high-risk category, he thought that my participation in the clinical trial might be a good option.

Here are some of the benefits that he mentioned:

  1. I would receive extensive physical exams and lab testing in the study at no cost
  2. The staff would be closely monitoring my health while in the study
  3. I would be given the investigational study medication, or a placebo, to help them assess the effectiveness of this new potential treatment
  4. I would receive compensation for my time and travel expenses and would not incur any out-of-pocket expenses and insurance is not needed
  5. I could stop participating at any time if I wasn’t experiencing any benefit from the study or if I simply didn’t want to participate any longer, I could stop.

Of course, this all sounded pretty good, but my questions were related to the risks involved and how much time it was going to take out of my schedule.  This is what he said:

  1. With any medication or investigational treatment, there is a potential for side effects and unwanted results
  2. In a study, there are usually similar risks of side effects, but you are also monitored much more closely by the study doctors and staff, so the chances of a serious side effect are minimal
  3. The benefits of the diagnostic testing and medical attention and compensation are often worth the time investment that a patient makes, but this is something that would have to evaluated by each individual before making the commitment.

In this study, I would have to complete 8 visits over six months.  I would receive lab tests at each visit to assess my cholesterol levels and to ensure that my health throughout the study was in good standing.  I would also receive about $65 at each visit to help cover my time and expenses to come to the visits.

I definitely had concerns about being in a study, but I trust my doctor and I felt like there might be some real benefits that would help me get control over my cholesterol.  And who knows, perhaps this new investigational medication would work wonders?  I also thought that it would be great to help doctors and scientist learn more about this new treatment potential and that I could help be a part of the process.

When it was all said and done, I ended up really enjoying participating in this clinical research study.  I learned so much about my health.  I received amazing attention from the doctors and staff and really took control of my cholesterol problems.  The jury is still out on how well the investigational treatment worked, but I think that awareness about my condition, diet and exercise habits made a huge difference on its own.

So my doctor is at Bandera Family Health Center and they conduct a lot of studies in their research department, BFHC Research.  You can see all of the studies that they are conducting right on their website.  If you see something that interests you, talk to the staff at BFHC Research.  I had a great experience and I think you may too.  I think participating in a research study could be the one step you take that helps you get control of your health and advance medical science for us all.

Find studies in the San Antonio and surrounding areas here!