A new study by UCLA has discovered that study partners play a key role in clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease.
These people provide patients with support while updating researchers about progress, with the new research finding how a study partner can actually affect the results and interpretations of the trials.
The study appears in the December 19th issue of the Neurology journal. Findings showed that 67 per cent of Alzheimer's patients had a spouse as their study partner, even though over two-thirds of all unpaid Alzheimer's disease care-givers are patients' children, children-in-law or grandchildren, showing that many blood relatives help with the work.
As well as this, it was found that around 90 per cent of Alzheimer's sufferers do not have spouses.
Findings suggested that the risk of dropout for groups including adult children was 70 per cent higher than for the spouse study partner group.
Joshua D Grill, an assistant professor of neurology at UCLA and a member of the UCLA Mary S. Easton Centre for Alzheimer's Disease Research, said: "The role of the study partner is vital to the success of Alzheimer's disease clinical trials. We count on them to ensure that the patient is taking their medications, drive them to appointments and, in general, report back how things are going."
Mr Grill admitted more needs to be done in order to improve recruitment levels for the studies.
"Two-thirds of clinical trial participants do have spouses. That confirms we are missing a huge population of people we are not enrolling. They're out there, and we need to do a better job of recruiting them in order to expedite study of promising drugs for Alzheimer's."
This news comes after the health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a £22 million cash boost for government spending on dementia.
The cash will be used to fund projects in a range of areas, including hospital care and investigations into the use of diabetes drugs to treat the condition.
Almost £44 million of the funding will be delivered in partnership with the Alzheimer's Society.
Posted by Ben Evans