Zurich – Few patients are willing to share their data for research


The Zurich University Hospital struggles to convince hospitalized people to give up their data for studies. An expert gives some leads to explain this refusal.

Researchers are sorely lacking data on the pandemic.

University of Basel / Thomas Klimkait

University hospitals are active in research. But in this time of Covid, medical science is struggling to progress, explains Huldrych Günthard, chief physician of the infectious diseases clinic at the University Hospital of Zurich in the “SonntagsZeitung”. Many patients refuse to share their research data. “In the HIV studies I participated in, 70 to 80% of the respondents agreed to participate in the study,” says Huldrych Günthard. With the Covid, it’s only 30%. ”

The specialist sees several reasons for this situation. He cites in particular the cultural origin of many patients. Another avenue: difficult to gain the trust of patients for caregivers dressed in protective clothing from head to toe. The growing mistrust of medicine further adds to the difficulty of obtaining the approval of data sharing, also specifies the expert. “We are a country of knowledgeable people and I was convinced that people were positive about medical research because it helps people. But I have become somewhat disillusioned, ”concludes the researcher, who is worried. “Only if enough people share their data for research will we learn whether new therapies are useful or not.”

The neglected research

Researchers are also concerned about the lack of support from politicians and institutions for research. The Infectious Diseases Clinic at Zurich University Hospital did not receive a single franc of additional funding during the Covid crisis. The Swiss National Science Foundation also rejected a request a few years ago to create a national center of excellence for viral diseases, as reviewers felt the topic was not sufficiently relevant. “With such a center, Switzerland would have managed the Covid crisis in a completely different way,” says Huldrych Günthard.


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