Purpose: Disease advocacy organizations may assist in the conduct of research in a variety of ways. We sought to characterize how disease advocacy organizations participate in clinical research and perceive their contributions.
Methods: Postal and electronic surveys administered to leaders of disease advocacy organizations for genetic conditions identified through the Genetic Alliance's Disease InfoSearch.
Results: Of the 201 disease advocacy organizations approached, 124 (62%) responded. In the past 2 years, 91% of these organizations had assisted in participant recruitment, 75% collected data, 60% provided a researcher with financial support, and 56% assisted with study design. Forty-five percent of these organizations also supported a research registry or biobank. Few disease advocacy organization leaders (12%) reported regrets about research studies they had supported. Most (68%) felt their involvement in clinical research had increased the amount of research on their condition and that researchers should consult organizations like theirs in deciding how to recruit participants (58%) and in selecting research topics (56%).
Conclusion: In addition to providing financial support, disease advocacy organizations participate directly in multiple aspects of research, ranging from study design and patient recruitment to data collection and analysis. Leaders of these organizations feel strongly that scientists and research sponsors should engage them as partners in the conduct of clinical research.