There are times when patients come to you as a nurse practitioner as a last resort. Perhaps they have been plagued by a dermatological disorder for years, or, maybe they’ve recently received a terminal cancer diagnosis. When you have provided all the treatment you can, referred to specialty providers, and tried every trick for treatment of the condition in the medical playbook, patient care quickly turns frustrating for both parties without additional recourse.
In these instances, sometimes the best treatment for your patient is none at all. Supportive measures and symptomatic treatment may be your best bet. In others, patients may be interested in innovative treatment options. There are thousands of new drugs in the experimental pipeline and a select few patients are eligible to participate in these new interventions that just might positively affect their outcome. How can you find clinical trials for your patients?
There are two main online resources promoting active clinical trials. Nurse practitioners may use these resources to determine if a trial exists that may help a patient and, to screen for eligibility in the study.
ResearchMatch is an impressive database of clinical trials. For each trial, ResearchMatch outlines the purpose of the study as well as the study design. The site also lists inclusion and exclusion criteria for participation in the study including items such as specific liver and kidney function lab requirements. You may need to walk your patients through these criteria to make sure they qualify. Often, studies are conducted only in one geographical area so the logistics of pairing your patient with a relevant trial may not work out, but it’s worth a look. Contact information for the researcher responsible for recruiting participants is also available should you have questions.
ClinicalTrials.gov allows patients and providers to search clinical trials based on medical condition. The device, drug, supplement or procedure under investigation is clearly outlined allowing for a quick narrowing down of your options. A description of the study, interventions and required follow-up is included along with inclusion and exclusion criteria. Results of completed studies are posted as well so you can review outcomes helping keep up when it comes to evidence-based practice.
Participation in clinical trials involves risk, so an in-depth discussion about risk-benefit is in order before recommending and helping enroll your patients in such studies.
Do you have patients who are participating in clinical trials? How has this affected their outcome?
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