Bill Larsen – Research matters
My heart disease dates back about 20 years to when I first began having chest pains after climbing a long staircase. This led to the discovery of a narrowed coronary artery. A stent was inserted and I got welcome relief which lasted several years. But the disease progressed due, I am sure, to my own neglect. Bypass surgery was performed in 2003, and though the main grafts have held up well, I have had additional stents inserted in secondary arteries to relieve continuing symptoms of angina.
At some time in the past, whether before or after my heart disease developed, I began taking an aspirin tablet daily as a preventative measure. Whether this came about through a doctor's recommendation or some general consensus delivered through mass media, I do not remember. Two dosage sizes (81 mg and 325 mg) seemed to be randomly advised. I opted for the lower dosage just because it seemed the safest.
When the invitation came to join the Adaptable study as a patient representative, I was surprised to learn that the best dosage size has never been determined. After learning the study objectives, I was pleased to join the study that would provide answers to these key questions: Is there an optimum size and does one size fit all? To what extent is bleeding as a side effect an issue, and is it related to dosage size?
Though I expect the results to directly influence my future choice of dosage size, that is not my primary motivation. The answers to these questions are important for all of us: our children, our friends, and society in general for generations to come. That is a worthwhile goal.
As a patient representative, I have a two-way responsibility--one to the patient and one to the research team. On the patient side, I try to ensure that I have a comprehensive understanding of what a patient’s concerns might be when approached to join the study. On the researcher side, I try to accurately convey those patient concerns and how they might react to all the ways in which they are approached as a potential participant (general announcements, mailings, phone calls, and consent forms, among others).
There is one further insight I wish to share with you on the basis of my Adaptable experience. Research progress is vitally dependent on the willingness of all of us to actively participate in the research process in whatever way best fits our background, interests and health condition--as direct participants or in a supporting capacity. Researchers are eager to get our perspective and are very responsive to our suggestions. So . . . Get involved. Explore the opportunities to find one that best suits your own interests. My experience on the Adaptable study has been overwhelmingly positive.