Bio-medical research

Non-profit academic research is currently overwhelmed by bureaucracy and excessive costs, making it almost impossible for patients to directly or indirectly benefit from its results.

Few patients know that when they participate to an academic study they benefit from the  so-called Hawthorne Effect. The term was coined by Henry A. Landsberger in 1950, during an analysis of old tests conducted between 1924-32 at Hawthorne Works, an electronic factory just outside Chicago. Hawthorne Works had commissioned a study on the relationship between workers’ productivity and the brightness or the temperature of their working environment. The survey pointed out that during the monitoring period productivity rose in relation to changes in the conditions of the working environment. As soon as the research period was over, however, productivity collapsed once again.

This process, initially studied in the field of industrial production, is applicable to other realities. During academic, meaningful trials in the clinical field, for instance, a sample of patients is divided into two groups. All patients receive the best available treatment with only one group receiving a drug, device or technique with possible beneficial effects on top of the ordinary treatment. Both groups are less subject to complications and tend to have higher survival rates compared to the general population of patients not involved in the trials. Studies have demonstrated that the part of the beneficial effect should not be attributed to the studied drug/technique/strategy, but to the Hawthorne effect, even though patients treated with an experimental therapy may show slightly better or worse responses compared to the others.

This type of “meaningful” academic research is currently hindered by the same bureaucracy that applies to large pharmaceutical companies. This indirectly causes the death of hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year. Patients and Patients associations are not aware of what is happening.

Support SMART research, support SMART trials!
(download our letter for more information)