If you are thinking of joining a clinical trial, it can be helpful to seek support from your friends and family beforehand. Trials will often last for weeks or months and your participation means committing to specific appointment dates and timeframes. 

Once you have a sense of what those commitments might be, consider a few people in your life who could show up for you. Here are some specific questions to ask them: 

Can I rely on you to provide childcare for a specific timeframe while I’m at appointments? If you are a parent, planning for your child’s care will be essential to your ability to join a trial. Ask your support network about their availability and willingness to assist with childcare. It may be wise to ask more than one person in case your primary support person has a change in schedule. 

No one intends to be late but, inevitably, things come up. Discuss whether or not your primary support person has the additional bandwidth if something unforeseen arises. This will go a long way towards alleviating the stress of running behind.

Can I rely on you to provide pet care while I am at appointments? If you have any pets at home, you’ll want to ensure that they will be fed and/or walked at the appointed time. Ask your support network about their comfort level around the type of pet you have. Be sure to have your home stocked with all items needed for their care. 

Can you come with me or pick me up from appointments if necessary? Sometimes a visit or procedure will require a care partner to accompany you home. Check in with those close to you to see who might be the best person to call on for these types of visits. It’s helpful to discuss what might be expected of them, such as if they will need to monitor you for a period of time.

Can you help with food shopping or other errands? Whether or not you are someone living with a chronic illness, over-scheduling yourself can lead to feeling overwhelmed. If you are unable to get to all the items on your “to-do” list, particularly while participating in a clinical trial, ask your friends and family if they would be willing to make the occasional trip to the market or pharmacy for you. 

Can I return the favor or compensate you in any way? In the cases of close relatives, compensation may not be applicable. But when it comes to friends, direct communication is best. Be open to a conversation about compensation. They may want nothing in return, but asking shows you value their time and care. 

If I experience any emotional discomfort or physical symptoms as a result of the trial, can I come to you for support? Consider friends and family who are a source of calm and comfort in your life when asking for this type of support. According to the American Psychological Association, social support is key to our physical, emotional, and psychological well being. Joining a clinical trial includes the potential risks of new treatment causing unknown side effects. We can’t do everything for ourselves; having a community means there are people to call on during challenging times. 

Let your support network know of your concerns in advance. This way they’ll be ready to lend a hand, ear, or shoulder. Remember, it’s okay if not everyone in your support network is up for this challenge — that’s why having these discussions is so important.

In general, work together with your support network to devise a plan that makes sense for everyone involved. Knowing you have secured support before a joining clinical trial will help you feel more at ease and ensure you can commit to the trial in full.

This blog is intended to be informational in nature. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

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