Website Helps Recruit Research Volunteers

July 9, 2010 | Leslie Hast

In the three months since the ResearchMatch.org website was launched, more than 1,500 Tennessee residents have registered as research subject volunteers and more than 3,300 have been matched to a particular study.

ResearchMatch.org is an online matching system that connects researchers with potential subjects across the country.

The free and secure site is available to all people regardless of age, gender, location, health status, etc. After expressing an interest in learning more about a study, subjects are matched with ones that are a good fit for them.

Deborah Sutherland, R.N., research project manager in Adult Infectious Disease, is using ResearchMatch.org to recruit participants for HIV studies led by David Haas, M.D. She says the new database is a major improvement over old recruitment methods.

“There are many user-friendly functions in the research database to filter results and find exactly what I’m looking for, like someone not on medications, someone with no reported diagnoses or someone who lives close by because they will have to come in for frequent visits,” she said.

On the flip side is Chris Jones, an architectural drafter in Vanderbilt University’s Campus Planning and Construction office and an enrollee in ResearchMatch.org.

Jones said the database is just as user-friendly for participants and took him about 15 minutes to complete.

“Research participants have everything to gain and nothing to lose,” he said. “Staying healthy has always been something I am dedicated to. You have to take care of yourself. You only have one body. Being part of a research study gives you access to a lot of exams that are costly otherwise. I also know I’m helping others.”

Jones first saw the value of research while his wife was working at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center on a sickle cell anemia study.

“I witnessed first-hand how important it was to have willing people come in to be tested. We all have different makes and may respond differently to medications, for example,” he said.

He has since participated in studies related to hypertension, vision and diet.

“Being in that hypertension study was the first time I ever found out I had high blood pressure,” Jones said. “I lost my dad a few weeks ago to a massive heart attack. I know participating in research will help me avoid that and also help others.”

Jones even has plans to set up a laptop at his upcoming family reunion to encourage relatives to register for ResearchMatch.org.

ResearchMatch.org is the product of a consortium of research institutions, including Vanderbilt and Meharry Medical College, which have received federal funding through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) to speed translation of discoveries from “bench to bedside.”

The consortium is led by the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health.

For more information or to register as a research subjects, go to www.ResearchMatch.org.

Vanderbilt or Meharry researchers interested in using ResearchMatch.org as a potential recruitment tool for studies may register at www.researchmatch.org/researchers.

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