MONDAY, Feb. 4, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Advances in science and health care rely on public participation in research, but only 11 percent of adults and 5 percent of children in the United States have ever participated in medical studies, according to a new survey.
That works out to about 20 million adults and about 3 million children, said the University of Michigan researchers.
The national survey of 2,150 households also found that 64 percent of adults said they were aware of opportunities to participate in medical research, while only 12 percent of parents said they knew about opportunities for their children to participate.
Race/ethnicity were not related to whether adults or children had been part of medical research or were aware of opportunities to participate, according to the study in the January issue of the journal Clinical and Translational Science.
"Our study indicates that public awareness of opportunities, and the match of research needs with potential participant characteristics, potentially limit enrollment," lead author Dr. Matthew Davis, an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a university news release.
"Researchers and institutions need to spread the word more effectively, to help people know about research opportunities that are a good fit for them," added Davis, who is also an associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the university.
"When research institutions engage effectively with the public, that's when the public can benefit in tremendous ways from the research to which they contribute," he noted.
Study co-author Dr. Thomas Shanley, director of the university's Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, said researchers are constantly challenged to recruit adults and children to participate in studies. "We hope this study sheds light on new ways to address this challenge and encourage more participation in the science that can change and ultimately improve health outcomes, in our communities as well as around the globe," he said in the news release.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides answers to questions about clinical trials.