As we move forward with our repositioning of health care at Collington, of necessity the potential of Collington as a research location has taken a big of a back burner – but only for now.
This New York Times article is a timely reminder of how us seniors are often forgotten when it comes to clinical trials:
Salt matters to geriatricians. It’s associated with conditions many older people contend with, particularly high blood pressure, but also swelling and heart failure.
Though doctors frequently urge older patients to reduce salt in their diets, it’s not clear how much reduction is necessary to improve health, or even how much salt most people actually consume.
“There’s a lot of controversy, but that’s why we need the data,” said Dr. Covinsky. So he read on, until he reached the paragraph explaining that the study used “randomly selected, nonpregnant participants aged 20 to 69 years.”
He did a double-take. Once again, the population probably most affected — older adults — had been left out of an important study.
“How is this possible? Unacceptable!” Dr. Covinsky protested on Twitter. “I can think of no good rationale for this exclusion. This has got to stop.”
Indeed, I have been told by researchers that it is hard to recruit seniors for trials. This may be for a variety of reasons, lack of trust, fear of the unknown, inconvenience, failure to understand modern protocols and informed consent. As the Times adds:
Starting next January, [NIH] grant applicants will have to explain how they intend to include people of all ages, providing acceptable justifications for any group they leave out. The agency will monitor investigators to make sure they comply.
Moreover, there are often problems with exclusions of research candidates who have multiple medical conditions (like almost all seniors.)
This has all led to the idea that Collington may indeed be a perfect research partner. We have many scientists here, and many with experience with statistics, data, and research protocols. We are an easy to reach population, and we are also racially diverse — another important consideration. Moreover, we might be able to help enroll and provide services associated with the research to those in the community. (In particular, fear of not being helped with other conditions is a major deterrent to certain categories of patients.
So, as we move forward, lets keep this is mind.
p.s. Dorothy Yuan adds the following thoughtful comment.