October 14, 2020

Introducing Study Finder: A new, simpler way to discover clinical trials

Madison, Wis. — It’s now easier than ever to find a clinical trial that’s right for you at UW Health and the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

Welcome to Study Finder, our new, accessible website that lists UW studies that are actively recruiting participants. From arthritis to women’s health, there are hundreds of unique studies at UW’s clinical locations, and with so many options, there is likely a study that meets your needs.

“Study Finder is really designed for ease of use,” said Ann Sexton, Research Recruitment Program Manager for the Institute of Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) with the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “It’s an easy way for people to navigate and find trials that are needing volunteers, while providing a direct link to the study teams.”

Through Study Finder, both oncology and non-oncology clinical trials will be available in one place for the very first time. Studies are now listed under broad categories, such as “cancer” or “mental health.” Each category will display all relevant and open clinical trials, and a new, improved search function allows for more in-depth and specific inquiries.

Some studies will appear under more than one category. For instance, lung cancer studies appear under the “cancer” and “lung disease & asthma” categories. 

Each individual study listing features easy-to-read and clear eligibility information. Buttons under each clinical trial make it simple to request more information or have study information emailed to you. In addition, you can send a message to the study team through Study Finder with any specific questions you may have about the trial.

There’s also a general ‘contact us’ tab at the top of the page for general questions about clinical trials at UW. This is a good place to start if you’re not finding what you’re looking for or have questions about language used in study descriptions.

Best of all, Study Finder works great on computers and mobile devices. It’s optimized for smartphones, meaning you can initiate emails and phone calls with a few simple taps of the screen.

It’s all part of UW’s ongoing efforts to better connect patients with potentially life-saving clinical trials. While physicians will often refer patients to these studies, a growing number of patients are seeking out options for themselves.

“Patients are getting more savvy about their care, and so they may be looking for clinical trials, even if they haven’t previously been part of UW Health,” said Betsy Nugent, chief clinical research officer for the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “Study Finder gives them an opportunity to see what UW has available.”

Referring physicians, however, will also be able to use the tools on Study Finder to more easily find studies for their patients. Each clinical trial includes a link to the study’s listing on ClinicalTrials.gov, a detailed database of studies from around the world. These listings tend to dive more deeply into the nitty-gritty medical details of a trial and may help physicians determine which study might be most appropriate for a patient.

You may also notice an option to view studies available to healthy volunteers. In clinical trials, healthy individuals are often needed to serve as control groups. In addition, an extensive range of samples from healthy patients are needed when researchers are searching for things like early biomarkers of disease.

“Not all patients will be looking for a clinical trial because they’re sick,” Nugent said. “Some participate because they want to move medical science forward, and that’s equally important.”

If you’re looking for pro-tips to maximize your experience on the site, Sexton encourages users to be as specific as possible with their searches. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations of words and phrases and see what comes up.

Going forward, Sexton and her team will continue to make tweaks and improvements based on feedback and how users are interacting with the site. “We’ll continue to evolve this website as we progress,” Sexton said.

Ready for a test drive? Head on over to Study Finder, and send your feedback through the ‘contact us’ tab at the top of the page.