‘Impenetrable medical jargon’: Why retooling ClinicalTrials.gov should be a priority

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Credit: Health Union
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Millions of people visit ClinicalTrials.gov each year to find a trial that they or a loved one might be eligible to join. It’s the largest public database of clinical studies in the world, listing more than 300,000 trials in the U.S. and around the world.

But as patients, families, and advocacy groups all say, ClinicalTrials.gov is not an easy website to use. Trial designs are confusing to users who aren’t familiar with clinical research. And inclusion and exclusion criteria, as well as outcome measures, often read as impenetrable medical jargon that only researchers can understand.

The best option would be for all trial seekers to use a retooled ClinicalTrials.gov that could quickly and easily allow them to restrict their searches to a particular geographic area, a single institution, or a disease type, rather than relying upon a patchwork of trial finders.

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[O]ther trial finders show only trials that are recruiting or that haven’t yet begun recruiting, instead of including past, present, and future trials in their results. After all, if you’re a patient looking for a trial to participate in, you aren’t interested in ones that have already closed.

The move to modernize ClinicalTrials.gov is a unique opportunity to create one premier trial-finding site. Let’s make sure it gets done right.

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