Health research still faces critical shortage of volunteers nationwide
Written by Ian Demsky; contact at 734-764-2220.
Ann Arbor - First the good news: In recent days, the University of Michigan Health System added its 10,000th research volunteer to our participant registry, a major milestone.
Now the bad news: There's still a great need for research participants at U-M and nationwide. A lack of volunteers slows progress in the fight against cancer, diabetes, depression and other devastating illnesses. Many studies seek healthy volunteers as well as those will a specific condition or ailment.
"To us, these volunteers are nothing short of heroes because they're helping scientists find cures, improve individuals' quality of life and move health research forward," says Molly White, manager of the clinical research recruitment program at the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research. "Polls have shown that more than 90% of Americans recognize the importance of clinical research to the advancement of medical science, yet the vast majority know very little about the research process or how to get involved."
That where MICHR comes in. Founded in 2006, the institute helps to support researchers across U-M, as well as provide a bridge between researchers and the larger community.
MICHR is committed to moving medicine forward with safe and innovative studies, and in assisting research teams across campus to find volunteers who are interested in participating in studies.
The online registry at UMClinicalStudies.org allows prospective volunteers to search or browse the studies that are looking for volunteers. It also can match would-be participants based on eligibility criteria, health status and the volunteer's preferences.
Since the registry's launch in 2007, it has been used to enroll participants in more than 500 studies. Study teams report that in many cases, the website was instrumental in helping them meet their recruitment goals. When not enough participants can be found, studies can languish or even be canceled. This free resource also helps to lower the costs of individual studies because less money needs to be spent on recruitment advertising.
"We'd like to invite everyone to check out the online registry and see if there's a study that would be of interest to them," White says. "No matter who you are, how old you are, or whether you're healthy or have a health condition, there's probably a study out there that could use your help."