Myths and facts about health research
April 1, 2022 | View PDF
One of the reasons health research is important is to study the effectiveness and safety of a medicine. Some drugs may work in clinical trials but may not work in the field due to factors such as race, ethnicity, age, gender and more. Even though we know the importance of health research, we often ask ourselves questions such as, “Why should I be part of health research? What are potential outcomes of my participation? Will I be making a difference?” The truth is that health research aims to find better ways to prevent and treat disease. Health research is an important way to help improve the care and treatment of people worldwide.
An example of a health research initiative is “All of Us”, a research program from the National Institutes of Health, which aims to help speed up health research. People who join this program will share information about their health, habits and environment. By looking for patterns, researchers may learn more about what affects people’s health and, in the future, find treatments or prevention strategies for diseases.
However, due to the huge amount of misinformation, many people are unaware of the benefits of health research and are even afraid to take part in this important effort.
Can you tell the difference between myths and facts about health research? Learn the facts about health research and the All of Us Research Program.
Myth: The race or ethnicity of research participants doesn’t matter because medicine affects everyone the same way.
Fact: Everyone’s body processes medicines differently, and health care shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. According to the Office of Minority Health, Hispanic adults are 70% more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes and are 1.2 times more likely to be obese. This shows how different our community’s health experiences are from other groups.
Myth: There are enough people involved in health research, I don’t need to participate.
Fact: While Hispanics represent almost 19% of the population in the United States, less than 5% participate in clinical trials. We need more of the Hispanic community to participate. When more people participate, researchers have a fuller picture of the health of the community.
Myth: I will be a guinea pig.
Fact: There are many strict guidelines around clinical trials, and you must give consent (your agreement) before you participate. If you join the All of Us Research Program, participants are considered partners. With All of Us, participants shape the program with their input and get back information about themselves.
Myth: Being part of health research has had no benefit at all.
Fact: Health research helps researchers find the best ways for people to stay healthy and create better treatments. Participating in health research can improve the health of your community and future generations, but the All of Us Research Program also has specific benefits for you. You can get back information about your health, including genetics and DNA. These results may include things like ancestry (where your family comes from), traits (like whether you can digest milk), whether you have a higher risk of developing some conditions, and how your body may respond to certain medications. This can help you make more informed decisions about your health.
Myth: My health data and personal information will be shared with other government agencies.
Fact: Here are some facts about the All of Us Research Program:
The program doesn’t ask what your citizenship or immigration status is.
They cannot share your information with other government agencies.
Joining the program will not affect your immigration status.
Your medical or personal information will never be shared with a future employer.
Legally, All of Us can’t give away your information to anyone outside of the program.
Information shared with the program is not admissible in a court of law, which means it cannot be used against you in a legal setting.
Myth: Healthy people don’t need to be a part of health research. Only very sick people join medical studies.
Fact: With the All of Us Research Program, you can participate in health research no matter how many or what kind of health conditions you have. Enrollment in All of Us is open to all eligible adults (18 and older) who live in the United States. People of every race, ethnicity, sex, gender, and sexual orientation are welcome. You can be healthy or have health issues.
Myth: I need health insurance to participate in medical research.
Fact: You don’t need health insurance to join All of Us because it is a research program, not medical care.
Joining the All of Us Research Program offers a variety of benefits that will contribute to your health and the health of the entire community. If you’re interested in being part of All of Us, log on to the All of Us website at https://www.joinallofus.org/together or call 844-842-2855.
This article originally appeared on the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) blog. It is being reprinted in Senior Voice as part of an ongoing series by the Diverse Elders Coalition, focusing on different demographic groups in the senior population.