Sunday, June 19, 2011

Being a middle aged guinea pig

For anyone who has ever been tempted to participate in a health study -- or wondered about those who do take part -- it might be worth reading the Booster Shots medical blog at the LA Times.

The blogger, Rosie Mestel, takes readers through her experience being interviewed as a control subject for a cancer study.

A few weeks back, I came home to find a letter stuffed in my mailbox explaining that a group of researchers was seeking an adult woman to match against another individual in the neighborhood who'd had a cancer diagnosis. As far as I could figure, it was an epidemiology study in which they make lots and lots of similar matches and try to tease out lifestyle and other factors that may have a bearing on cancer risk.

I ummed and awwed for about a week, and then finally sent a form back with an agreement to be interviewed.

It turns out, she kind of liked it, and was sad to see it end.

From the other side of the gurney, researcher and blogger Summer Johnson, said the blog made her reflect on the impact her work has on her subjects.

Perhaps atypical, idiosyncratic, or just one person's point of view, it made me pause to think about the human subjects I've interviewed and how this process effects them during and after the research study is over.


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