Clinical trials of medications, medical equipment, and medical procedures are a vital part of medical research. Clinical trials can lead to groundbreaking results for patients and their families. This has been illustrated recently with the clinical trials and FDA approval of vaccines for COVID-19. The vaccines approved from clinical trials have been administered to hundreds of millions of people around the globe and have saved countless lives. Medical research and clinical trials are ongoing daily and continue to deliver lifesaving as well as life prolonging measures to advance medical care and the human condition.
One of the most important aspects of any clinical trial are patient surveys. Patient surveys used in clinical trials are used in a number of ways, all of which improve researcher knowledge of a patient’s medical and biological background. Quality of life surveys are used by medical researchers to determine how a patient is feeling during the trial. One measurement of how well a medication is working is if a patient, especially a patient who is a senior, has a debilitating chronic illness or who has a terminal disease feels their quality of life has been improved because of the medication. Here is more information on the use of quality of life surveys during the clinical trials process.
The Importance of Patient Quality of Life Surveys
During the clinical trials process, patients participate in research studies. Biological information on patients, as well as their medical information, is taken and used as part of the research process. Clinical trials means that patients are usually divided into two groups. One group of patients is given a placebo drug, while the other group of patients is given the drug. Unlike other types of research, clinical trials for medication can be months or even years long. During the trials, patients are given quality of life surveys in their native language. In the United States, Spanish surveys are the most commonly used language survey other than English.
Quality of life surveys usually ask patients to discuss their current lifestyle. For senior patients or those with chronic or terminal conditions, quality of life surveys usually ask the patients about their behavior and symptoms during the day. For example, patients who have a terminal illness such as cancer may be asked during a quality of life survey whether they were able to enjoy physical activity during the day, such as yoga or a walk.
Patients might be asked if they were able to leave their homes for errands, if they napped, or enjoyed time with family. Researchers will want to know if a patient was able to go on a date with their partner, or color with their grandchild. It is these quality of life moments as reported in a survey that researchers use to determine the outcomes of clinical trials. While researchers can look at the physical or biological changes that come during a clinical trial, a patient’s quality of life surveys can be vital to medical outcomes.
How Quality of Life Surveys Improve Technology for Patients
Another area where quality of life surveys improve patient outcomes during clinical trials is in medical technology. Medical technology has been pushing the boundaries for patient quality of life for decades. These improvements in medical technology could not have happened without quality of life surveys. For example, patients with terminal cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy would have to return to their doctor’s offices to receive additional medications to counter some of the side effects of chemo. Thanks to medical research, and quality of life surveys, patients can now receive helpful medication at home after a chemo treatment. Patients reported that not having to go to the doctor’s office allowed them to rest and recuperate more quickly after chemo.
Technology not only helps patients undergoing chemotherapy, but quality of life surveys have improved the lives of seniors and patients with chronic illnesses such as COPD. Medical technology has advanced the use of portable oxygen packs that give COPD patients the ability to move around freely with an oxygen machine the size of a purse, rather than trying to lug around an oxygen tank. In quality of life surveys for medical equipment, patients reported a huge improvement in their ability to enjoy outdoor activities with their family and friends, and a reduction in stress associated with worrying about when their oxygen might run out.
When patients have the ability to report to medical professionals about their changing quality of life thanks to medication or medical technology, it allows medical researchers to gain insight into how their research improves the lives of senior patients, chronically ill patients, or terminally ill patients daily.