Guest Blog by Sarah Rusnack, MS, RD, LD
As with all areas of medicine, nutrition practice relies on evidence generated from research studies. For the latest guidelines and research summaries, check out the recently renovated Evidence Analysis Library of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The EAL is driven by thorough review of published research studies, and many thanks to the reviewers who work to make this repository of information available and searchable!
If you'd like to participate earlier in the evidence generating process, check out the listing of clinical trials currently underway at ClinicalTrials.gov. Provided by the National Institutes of Health, this website allows the public to search for human participants' research studies that are recruiting, active, or complete. Use the search bar on the home page to search for trials relating to conditions or topics. For example, as of this writing there are 1,006 studies registered on ClinicalTrials.gov about vitamin E. As an example of informatics in action, if you search "vitamin E" on this site, it will automatically also search for synonyms and related terms, such as alpha-tocopherol.
Another way to participate in research is to create a profile with ResearchMatch.org. Whereas ClinicalTrials.gov lets you find research studies, ResearchMatch lets research studies find you. ResearchMatch was developed by Vanderbilt University with funding from the NIH, and allows users to create a free profile with as much (or as little) of their health information as they wish.
Once your profile is created, ResearchMatch will anonymously check your information against the inclusion and exclusion criteria for studies that are looking for participants. If you are a possible match for a study, you will receive an email with information about the study and how you may be able to participate. If you choose, you can then grant the study permission to contact you. If the study doesn't interest you, then the researchers will never know your name or your health information. You decide whether to share your information with a study.
There's a tremendous amount of informatics helping run both ClinicalTrials.gov and ResearchMatch.org, but volunteers are the most important piece of the puzzle. Check them both out today!