If you want to play an active role in your health care, have access to the newest treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to new research, then a clinical trial may be for you.
A clinical trial is a biomedical or health-related research study in human beings that follow a predefined study plan, commonly referred to as a “protocol.” A protocol describes what types of people may participate in the trial, as well as the schedule of tests, procedures, medications, and dosages, and the length of the study.
The clinical trial process depends on the kind of trial being conducted. The studies can be interventional, meaning a treatment or other intervention is introduced, monitored and its outcomes measured. Other studies can be observational, where participants are observed and outcomes are measured.
Some studies are looking for people with a particular condition, while other studies are seeking healthy participants. As a study participant, you will work with a research team who are investigating the treatment, intervention or specific behavior and its result regardless of which type of trial you are involved in.
Generally speaking, many clinical trials include a medical team of doctors and nurses as well as social workers and other health care professionals. Each study participant receives a health checkup at the beginning of the trial, and is given specific instructions for participating in the trial.
Some clinical trials involve more tests and doctor visits than the participant would normally have for an illness or condition. Clinical trial participation is most successful when the study plan is carefully followed and there is frequent contact with the research staff. The team monitors the participant carefully during the trial, and stays in touch after the trial is completed.
If you have a current health condition being investigated, you will still need to maintain your regular medical appointments with your primary health care team. Most clinical trials provide short-term treatments but are not meant to replace your primary health care.