From Crohn’s disease to cancer, these days you can find a clinical trial for almost any condition. Often trials are most attractive to patients who are looking for new treatment options or living with a rare condition that doesn’t yet have effective treatments. But in some cases, these trials can be for healthy patients too.
A great example would be the trials for the recently developed COVID-19 vaccines. Each FDA-authorized vaccine had to go through a series of clinical trials to prove its safety and effectiveness. And how do you prove a vaccine is effective at preventing illness? With healthy volunteers, of course.
For some, the thought of participating in a trial researching an experimental treatment, vaccine, or procedure can be scary. But without the medical heroes who participate in these studies, we wouldn’t have certain new medications.
Here are just a handful of reasons why someone may choose to participate in a healthy patient trial:
Although the results from your participation as a healthy participant may not affect your health directly, you’ll be contributing to the greater good. With each new study, hope grows for people with serious conditions, as well as for the researchers who are working tirelessly toward a cure. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine studies, the results of healthy patient participation lead to ending a pandemic. That’s big, right?
The reach of altruism can also be smaller scale. Perhaps you’re a carrier for a genetic condition – by participating in a healthy patient trial, you may be able to make a difference in your family for generations to come.
While there’s nothing quite as rewarding as helping others, tangible rewards are pretty nice too. Participants are often compensated for their time in a study. This can be through cash, gift cards, or even wearable technology like FitBits and Apple Watches!
Contribution to Science.
At the end of the day, even if the results are considered unsuccessful, each clinical trial helps researchers learn something they didn’t know before. Every medication, procedure, and vaccine available to us today is a result of years of clinical research. And this wouldn’t be possible without healthy volunteers.