Clinical trials struggle to recruit patients for strokes
A stroke is an extremely grave medical condition. It occurs when the supply of blood to part of the brain is interrupted. As such, it is life-threatening and can have life-changing consequences. Many public and private resources have been dedicated to both the prevention and treatment of strokes and they have accomplished notable success in some areas. A persistent problem, however, is that researchers find it difficult to recruit trialists to test the sophisticated new techniques being developed for the enhanced treatment of stroke victims.
Why is it difficult to recruit trialists?
The inherent nature of a stroke is key to the problems clinicians experience when trying to recruit subjects for new trials. As highlights, the over-riding rule when treating stroke victims is that doctors must act quickly. There is, therefore, a very brief window in which patients can be advised on and give their consent to taking part in a trial. Connected with this issue is the point that patients may be unconscious or sedated and be unable to give their informed consent to being involved in a programme.
A further problem, known to providers of clinical trial services, is that not all hospitals are created equally. In other words, if a patient is taken to a teaching hospital following a stroke, he or she is more likely to receive care from specialists who are aware of the latest trials than at a community hospital. In the latter case, a patient may not be offered access to a trial. There are off course websites out there like www.trials4us.co.uk who offer Paid Medical Trials so it may entice more people to do them.
Education is critical. In the first instance, doctors and surgeons need to be kept informed of the latest developments and of any ongoing clinical trials which have the potential to help patients survive a stroke and have a good quality of life thereafter. They are then equipped to offer their best advice.
Secondly, the public needs to be educated about risk factors for stroke, partly on the basis that prevention is always better than cure and partly so that they are aware, should they fall victim to a stroke, that there are clinical trials designed to help. This means that a greater number of patients will actually ask about the full range of options available to them, a range which could conceivably include a clinical trial that could save lives.