by Marsha B. Henderson

Henderson.jpgMarsha B. Henderson serves as the Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In this role, she leads women's health research and outreach activities across the Agency.

When I first started working in the health field 30 years ago, I never thought much about clinical trials. Clinical trials didn’t really come up in conversations at work or with my family. This all changed when I joined the Office of Women’s Health at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At FDA, I learned that clinical trials play an important role in helping to advance our understanding of chronic diseases like depression. Clinical trials are one way that FDA learns how drugs and other medical products will affect the people who use them.

FDA does not conduct clinical research like the National Institutes of Health, but we do help to raise awareness about clinical trials. This is why I wanted to provide three tips to help you learn how you can get involved in clinical trials and make a difference for yourself or other women with anxiety and depression.

1. Get the Facts about Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that can help to show whether medical products are safe and effective. It is important for women who use these products to participate in clinical trials. When diverse women join clinical trials, researchers can better understand the many factors that affect how women respond to treatment and prevention strategies. The results can help healthcare providers tailor care and improve the health of diverse women today and in the future.

2. Ask Your Healthcare Provider

Deciding to participate in a clinical trial is a decision that you make after talking it over with your healthcare provider and your family. As with all medical decisions, before participating in a clinical trial, you should consider the benefits and risks. Read these 15 things you should know before joining a clinical trial. This list is not everything you need to know, but it will help you start the conversation with your healthcare provider. Make sure you have your questions answered before you agree to join a trial.

3. Help spread the word.

We’ve made progress in the past 20 years in including women in clinical trials. By having more women participate, we have better treatments and more options. However, many women are still uninformed. After reading this blog, I hope that you will start talking to the women in your life about clinical trials. You might find out that someone you know has already participated or that a friend has been thinking about it but didn't know how to enroll.

This is why the FDA Office of Women’s Health launched a new national initiative to help raise awareness about why women of all ages, races, ethnicities, and chronic conditions should participate in clinical trials. Check out FDA’s Diverse Women in Clinical Trials Toolkit for social media messages, graphics, and other resources you can use.  Even if you are not eligible for a trial, spreading the word will help all of us.

Visit www.fda.gov/womeninclinicaltrials to find out more about clinical trials.

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