While one in nine adults have participated in medical research, only one in 20 children have done so, according to a poll conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. The poll asked adults and parents about their views on medical research and past participation for themselves and their children.

The poll found that 68% of adults are aware of medical research opportunities for adults. In contrast, the 84% of parents are not aware of medical research opportunities for children.

“Medical research is the backbone of improving medical care. Without volunteers, medical research cannot move forward,” said Matthew Davis, MD, director of the poll and associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unite at the U-M Medical School. “Awareness about research opportunities, which is a necessary step before participation, is reasonably high among adults but strikingly low for children’s research. To improve participation rates among children, researchers and institutions evidently need to do a better job of getting the word out to parents.”

The poll also found that participation in medical research by adults is higher among non-Hispanic whites (14%) than among Hispanics (4%) or non-Hispanic blacks (2%). There are no racial/ethnic disparities for kids related to research participation.

The researchers point out that the participation of children in medical research has led to vaccines that have prevented millions of deaths from diseases such as polio, diphtheria, and pneumonia, and improved survival of children with cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, and diabetes into adulthood.

Source: University of Michigan Health System