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Medical research helps professionals understand and improve disease treatment, diagnosis, and prevention. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are more than 139,000 registered clinical studies in the United States as of 2023.
Thinking about taking part in medical research in the years to come may strike you as a rather unexpected part of long-term health care planning, yet it can be essential.
Research participation can have benefits and drawbacks. The decision of whether to join an experimental trial or decline is often nuanced.
As you prepare for the future, it is important to learn more about medical research and consider how you feel about its potential risks. Discuss your wishes with your loved ones, including your agent under a health care power of attorney.
There are different categories of medical research. The type of research may or may not directly impact your health.
Typically, medical research can be observational or experimental. Both types of studies generally aim to benefit future patients. In experimental studies, also known as clinical trials or interventional studies, researchers introduce an intervention of some kind that may potentially have an impact on your condition.
There are several potential advantages to participating in medical research.
Study participation also may come with potential drawbacks.
Considerable risks can accompany medical interventions that are not available to the public. Researchers might hope that a particular intervention will be effective, but they have yet to determine whether it works. Always review the risks before participating in a study.
Each study has unique considerations. Before agreeing to participate in a study, you or your health care proxy should learn more about the research and assess the advantages and risks.
Considering your views on medical research participation is an important part of planning for the future.
Should you become incapacitated, a health care proxy will need to step in and make decisions about your medical care. This could potentially include participation in medical research. You should speak to your intended proxy, as well as other family members, about your views.
When you create a medical power of attorney, you can appoint someone you trust to make decisions for you. This can give your agent information to support a decision consistent with your wishes.
In addition to talking with your loved ones about your views on taking part in medical research, you can state your preferences in an advance directive, which can guide your health care proxy.
Consult with an attorney for assistance in developing a plan for your future care.