Clinical Trials Exhibit at Detroit Science Center

From Med City News: Making clinical trials as fun and interesting as static electricity

There are exhibits about flying planes and going to the grocery store. So why not one about participating in a clinical trial?

The Detroit Science Center will this fall include the process of patients trying out the safety and effectiveness of new drugs or medical devices in its new health-care exhibit. It’s created through a $100,000 National Institutes of Health grant and efforts at the University of Michigan Health System to increase the participation in clinical trials.

But can informed consent be fun?

Neat stuff. Good idea, I think. Anything we can do to get kids (of all ages!) to understand the clinical trials process is great.

A couple of quibbles. One worry (without having seen the display) is that the museum will tend to play up the “gee whiz” factor, and downplay the risks. That would make the exhibit a real mixed blessing. (Note that Genome Canada’s “The Geee! in Genome” project has been the target of similar criticism…Canada’s kids need to understand genomics, but not everyone agrees that education means cheerleading.)

And note that one of the goals of the exhibit is to “rebuild confidence among skeptics of the ethics of clinical trials.” Confidence and trust are generally good, but they’re not always good. Sometimes lack of trust is well-earned. If it’s the case that people have lost trust in the clinical trials system, education isn’t necessarily the best way to earn it back.

~ by Nancy Walton on April 24, 2009.

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