Tom McCormick – Why I’m Involved with Research
The purpose of the Adaptable project is to provide doctors with solid research-based information when recommending an aspirin dose to a heart patient. Doctors have known for many years that a daily aspirin pill can significantly reduce the risk of fatal heart attacks but so far there has been no definitive research to establish the best daily dose. In Adaptable, about 20,000 heart patients will be randomly assigned to take a daily 81 mg or a 325 mg dose of aspirin. These doses were chosen because both doses are readily available over the counter without a prescription. After three years, the researchers will evaluate the results.
There are two main reasons why I agreed to participate in the Adaptable project. The first reason is that the researchers plan to use the internet to help them collect the medical results for the trial. This is important because it substantially reduces the cost. In a typical medical research project, a patient might have to make a half dozen visits to the clinic during a three year medical trial. With the Adaptable project, with the patient’s consent, the researchers will be able to obtain most of the information they need electronically through the internet. This greatly reduces the per patient cost of the project, thereby allowing the researchers to have a much larger sample size.
The second reason for my interest in Adaptable is that the doctors have actively solicited input from a small group of heart patients (the Adapters). A big reason this really matters is that, while using the internet to collect data is a big strength of Adaptable, it is also a source of great weakness. With the internet, the researchers lose almost all of the interpersonal contact with the patients who volunteer to participate in the research. The Adapters provide the researchers with much valuable information on how to cope with this problem.
My personal feeling is that using the internet and using patient partners in the project make Adaptable a groundbreaking new way to perform medical research and should become a model for many new projects. I hope that the lessons that we are learning in this project will help guide future research.