Should I Participate in a Clinical Trial?

Written By:
Rob Chartier

What’s in it for Me?

Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances. They help scientists better understand health and disease, and help look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. Treatments might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments.

The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Clinical trials can also look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. By volunteering for a clinical trial you may be helping your community, our society, and people in general.

Joining a clinical trial may not help you, but it could help your grandmother, your child, your neighbor, your friend, or maybe even someone you’ve never met. It is possible that during a clinical trial, you may receive treatment that helps you. While it is also possible that the treatment or activity that you do during a clinical trial may not benefit you at all.

People participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Healthy volunteers say they participate to help others and to contribute to moving science forward. Participants with an illness or disease also participate to help others, but also to possibly receive the newest treatment and to have the additional care and attention from the clinical trial staff. Clinical trials offer hope for many people and an opportunity to help researchers find better treatments for others in the future.

Before you volunteer for a clinical trial, find out all the risks and benefits associated with participating in the clinical trial so that you have all the facts before you make a decision. Ask questions.

  • What is being studied?
  • What is the purpose of the clinical trial?
  • How long will the trial last?
  • How many study visits will I have to attend?
  • What kinds of tests or procedures will be performed (blood tests, physical examinations are just an example)?
  • Will I be able to take my regular medications during the clinical trial?
  • What are the possible risks and benefits of participating in the clinical trial?
  • How will the results of the clinical trial be shared with me?

When you have as much information as possible about the clinical trial, you will feel much more confident about the decision that you make.

Before you sign up for a clinical trial, ask the people who are conducting the trial to answer all of your questions. And remember you can stop participating in the clinical trial at any time, even after the study has started.

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