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Thank you, our fantastic research participants!

”How is it that my sister has been asked to participate in your study but I still have not received an invitation?”, asked a relative who had heard about our research project. Recruitment to clinical studies can be as easy as this – patients volunteer before we even contact them! We researchers sometimes hesitate to approach our patients and recruit them to our study, fearing that it will burden them or that they will feel offended by our invitation. But during the past years, I have time and again been surprised by children’s and adults’ positive attitude and enthusiasm towards research. They do want to be part of our research, they want to contribute to scientific development, and therefore they should have the opportunity to participate. (Read more)

What is it then that motivates participation in clinical research projects? For one, some studies may provide useful and interesting data on the participant’s own health, such as screening for bone mineral density or body composition, or thorough evaluation of blood biochemistry. But it is equally common for participants to not expect any benefits for themselves but purely hope to bring benefit to someone else and our current medicine. Most clinical studies still require quite a lot of time and activity from the participant’s side and the study procedures themselves may cause pain or discomfort. Therefore, when planning study visits and procedures, we must bear in mind the participants’ perspective and plan the visits to go as smoothly, painlessly and participant-friendly as possible.

Researchers are often passionate about their own projects and scientific discoveries, and in the midst of this excitement, it is easy to forget the study participants – the real sources of research data. To ensure eager and satisfied study participants also in the future, it is important to provide the participants with as much feedback as possible, preferably quite soon after the visit. It is also equally important to publicize our research discoveries so that the important scientific developments resulting from our clinical studies are noted both by the study participants and a wider public.

Limited funding and resources are a constant reason for complaints among researchers. While these complaints are often justified, we should not overlook the one thing that is probably better in Finland than in any other country: the positive, eager, obedient and faithful study participants. Participation rates and commitment to study protocols are impressive in Finnish clinical studies and significantly improve the quality of our research. So let’s make sure that we let our study participants know and feel how valued and appreciated their contribution is!

 

Outi Mäkitie