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November 25, 2009

Participating in Biomedical Research

JAMA. 2009;302(20):2200-2202. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1717

To the Editor: In their Special Communication, Mr Schaefer and colleagues1 provided a provocative rationale for the importance of participation in biomedical research. Their implicit focus is patients; we propose that physicians also have a similar obligation.

Coincidentally, the Special Communication and the Institute of Medicine report on comparative effectiveness research2 were published simultaneously. Comparative effectiveness research examines features of medicine that could be modified to improve care, such as different treatment options. But it has become increasingly apparent that the behaviors of those involved in health care organization and delivery also affect outcomes. Understanding of the myriad factors beyond individual therapeutic choices that affect patient health is still limited. Progress will require the cooperation of clinicians, including not only general support for research but also being participants in research on their role in the health care system.