Once you’ve made the decision to participate in a study looking at PCOS, the next step is finding a reputable clinical study program. Sometimes local physicians or hospital groups recruit patients, leaving you to wonder if you should participate or if it is even safe.
If you can’t find a study looking at PCOS, try looking for studies evaluating infertility, acne, weight loss, hirsutism (abnormal hair growth), insulin resistance or other PCOS symptoms or complications. Make sure to disclose that you have PCOS, as having the condition can alter the results or make you ineligible to participate.
Finding a Study
You can start with a simple Internet search using the keywords “PCOS and Clinical Study”. Scroll through the results and see if there is a study close by that you might be eligible for. You can also start with the major medical centers close to where you live that is currently accepting study participants. Your physician or specialist may be doing research or be able to point you in the direction of a colleague who is performing a study. Finally, you can check the National Institute of Health clinical studies resources for more information about participating in a clinical study. They also have an easy to use search function (found at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/) where you can enter the type of study you are looking for and a listing of all of the current projects is displayed. On the day that this was written, there were 285 available clinical studies.
It is important to thoroughly read through the study materials to make sure that you qualify for and are willing to participate in that specific study. Make sure that you understand what is being asked of you and what is being studied. It can also be helpful to check in with your physician (if he isn’t doing the research or refer you to the study) to notify him of your participation. If the medication or therapy being investigated has an effect on your physical health, he should be aware.
Evaluating A Study
First, you should consider the source of the study – is it a large, well-known center or a small private company that you’ve never heard of? That’s not to say that the smaller center will be unethical or difficult to work with, but you may have better luck or confidence in a larger facility that has more experience administering studies. Always check out the facility – search through their website, check out their listing with the Department of Health or Better Business Bureau and do a simple Google search to see if any bad experiences have been reported.
How long will it last? Where will you need to go? Is hospitalization or surgery required? Will I need time off from work and will my employer be supportive? If the medication or therapy is effective, will I be allowed to continue once the study has finished? Has the medication or therapy been tested before and is it safe? Have side effects or complications been reported? What happens if I suffer from side effects or complications after the study? Who oversees my care during this time? What about after the study? Who is administering the study? Will I be paid for my participation? What about my other expenses? Will I get to know the results?
These are all important questions that you should ask before signing your consent – the answers may influence your willingness or ability to participate. You should also get a feel for how comfortable you feel with working with the study administrators.