Tag Archives: clinical studies

Why the ‘Hawthone effect’ matters
when covering medical studies

Photo by Chase Clark via Unsplash

Those familiar with basic principles in physics are likely aware of the observer effect, the phenomenon by which simply observing subatomic particles affects the behavior of those particles. If even non-sentient subatomic particles act differently when they’re being observed, imagine what that means for creatures as social and self-aware as humans. The closest corresponding effect in people is called the Hawthorne effect, the phenomenon referring to the idea that people will change their behavior in response to discovering they are being observed. 

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How well do clinical studies take sex and gender differences into account?

Silhouette of a couple walking

Photo: meltwater via Flickr

The history of inequity in medical studies is long and harrowing, and it continues today. But at least today, there is more awareness of the history and the present-day problems that persist. For example, the Endocrine Society recently released a scientific statement demanding more research into sex differences for the sake of public health.

The fact that males and females — not to mention individuals who do not identify as either binary category — do not respond the same way to different diseases, drugs and other interventions has been a relatively new development in the history of clinical trials. As recently as 1977, women of childbearing age were explicitly excluded by the FDA from phase 1 and 2 drug trials. In practice, that often extended to phase 3 trials and other types of studies for various reasons. Continue reading

New approach treats Alzheimer’s one person at a time

Photo: Iriss via Flickr

Can a precision medicine approach to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias improve outcomes?

That is the theory behind the Dementia Prevention Initiative (DPI). The Florida Atlantic University (FAU) program twists the usual methods used to research and treat AD by employing an “n-of-1” design individualize medicine down to a single patient. Instead of conducting a conventional trial of 100 people who get the same treatment, the program conducts 100 single trials personalized to the individual. The youngest DPI patient is currently 61, and the oldest is 86. Continue reading