Medical research mismatch: What patients, clinicians want is not what they get

On average, both patients and clinicians prefer medical research that explores non-drug treatments, such as physical or psychological therapies, or interventions to improve educational approaches. However, in most of the medical research being performed, researchers tend to prioritize studying drug treatments, according to research from the journal Research Involvement and Engagement.

The mismatch between the kinds of treatments patients and clinicians would like to see and what is actually being emphasized in the laboratory has been known for some time, according to Iain Chalmers, author of the study and co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration and James Lind Alliance.

"This discrepancy was first uncovered 15 years ago, and so it is disappointing that the situation still has not improved," Mr. Chalmers said in a statement. "The research community needs to make greater efforts to involve patients and healthcare professionals in setting research agendas, and take account of their views."

In research performed by the James Lind Alliance, researchers found that drug treatment interventions accounted for 18 percent of what partnerships between patients, caregivers and clinicians said they wanted, but accounted for 37 percent of the types of treatments evaluated in non-commercial trials and 86 percent of treatments evaluated in commercial trials.

The study suggests that drug trials may offer a greater incentive in terms of quantifying results, because evaluating psychological or physical therapies is less straightforward. The authors say that allowing patients and clinicians to contribute to setting research agendas, something that only very rarely happens, could help correct the discrepancy.


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