Research and Evidence-Based Medicine
Health and medical research is important. It can help us to understand why and how often certain diseases, conditions or symptoms occur. Research also shows us the best ways of treating or managing illnesses and symptoms. Doctors use research findings to help decide the best course of action. They often combine these findings, their own expertise and what patients prefer. This process is called evidence-based medicine.
Types of studies
There are different types of medical research. There are studies that describe or observe. They look at what happens to groups of people who share something in common. For example, we may want to know how many people smoke. We may also want to know if skin cancers have increased in the last twenty years. Using surveys such as the census collection are one way to answer these questions. There are also experimental or intervention studies. These look at what happens when we deliberately change a particular treatment. These are called clinical trials or randomised controlled clinical trials.
Participating in trials
You may be asked to take part in a study by your doctor. You may also see clinical trials being advertised in the paper. All clinical trials will have a participant information sheet. You should read this very carefully. Check and make sure that the trial has been approved by a research and ethics committee.
Consumer involvement in research
As a consumer you may be directly involved in health and medical research. You may be in a trial or research study. You may also be involved as a consumer representative. This could be on a research project or as member of a research management board or a research grants panel.
As a carer you may be asked to be a part of a forum or consultation. You may be asked to complete a survey or questionnaire. You may want to be able to explain and describe your experiences as a carer. The State and Territory Carers Associations will advise you of such opportunities. The websites of each association is a way of finding out what research and other projects are happening around Australia.
All consumers benefit from health and medical research. Everyone therefore has an important role to play. You can contribute to how research develops. This makes sure that the findings can make a difference.