Intended for healthcare professionals


Including older people in clinical research

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 03 November 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1036
  1. Marion E T McMurdo (, head of ageing and health,
  2. Miles D Witham, clinical lecturer,
  3. Neil D Gillespie, senior clinical lecturer
  1. Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY
  2. Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY

    Benefits shown in trials in younger people may not apply to older people

    There are more old people alive today than at any time in history. Older people are, quite rightly, “the core business of the NHS.”1 The need to be able to draw on the results of good quality research to inform best practice in the specific management of older people is compelling. So we might expect that researchers would have eagerly embraced the participation of older people in clinical trials. Yet this is not the case. What do clinicians and researchers have to do to redress the serious bias against older people in clinical research?

    The evidence that older people are being excluded from clinical research is widespread. Although the world is facing a global increase in the prevalence of diabetes mellitus, and by 2030 it is estimated that over 48 million older people in developed countries will have diabetes, the mean age of participants in the United Kingdom Progression of Diabetes Study was only 53 years. Guidelines on older people with diabetes have acknowledged …

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