Receiving a medical diagnosis can be a nerve-wracking time of
uncertainty and fear. Emotions can range from ecstatic about
finally being able to put a name to what ails you, to despair over
a disease or condition that may be life threatening.
For many people that initial conversation with a health care
professional about a new diagnosis sounds like the buzz of white
noise. All of these emotions cloud judgement and make it difficult
to even hear what is being said, let alone understand it.
Imagine you've just received a devastating medical diagnosis.
You're sitting in the doctor's office with complicated, maybe even
scary, medical brochures, trying desperately to figure out what
questions to ask. Then, someone asks you if you would be interested
in participating in a clinical research study. A clinical study
might be the last thing on your mind after you receive a diagnosis,
but for many studies (and patients) the point of diagnosis--or soon
after--is the crucial window that would allow a patient to be
eligible for participation.
At MMG, we specialize in clinical trial patient recruitment. We
understand how to write for the patient described above. We know
what information they need, when they need it, and how they need to
receive that information so that they can make the best informed
We also know that asking someone to participate in a clinical
study is a tough question--one for which the answer shouldn't be
considered lightly. Appropriate and timely communication on the
part of health care professionals can make a real difference in how
the question of participation is considered and answered.
Sometimes, it takes more than a doctor or nurse informing the
PACT team (Partnership for Access to Clinical Trials). The PACT
program "…educates patients, providers, and community groups about
clinical research studies and advances in treatments for infectious
diseases such as HIV/AIDS [and] hepatitis C." PACT serves as a
communication bridge between patients in the Washington, D.C. metro
area, and research clinicians from the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
The program's primary focus is to "…increase access to research
for people who may be underrepresented in clinical studies." The
way the PACT team operates may seem simple, but it is incredibly
valuable. Members of the team educate potential study participants
in a way that is easily understood and makes the patient feel
comfortable. They help arrange for services that patients may not
even know are available to them, such as transportation. The PACT
team listens--to doctors, to patients, to concerned loved ones.
They answer questions patients are afraid to ask their doctors and
they help the process of clinical trial participation seem less
daunting and scary.
Although there is no doubt that the service provided by the PACT
team is invaluable to the patients, it doesn't take long to realize
that PACT team members receive just as much value from the
experience (if not more).
For more information about NIAID and its community partnership
with the PACT team, watch this
video, featuring a cameo from MMG's Charlita
Whitehead as she discusses her role with the PACT team and how
far HIV research has come in the past few decades.