If you’ve ever considered participating in a clinical trial, you’ve probably come to find that there is no shortage of choices out there. Some people turn to clinical trials to make a little extra cash, while others seek to remedy their own health conditions by trying a new drug or treatment. No matter the reason for your participation in a study, it is important to realize that not all clinical trials are created equal. Although you may have found a study that you are interested in, or that you qualify for, there are plenty of trials out there that are of lower quality due to a lack in resources, proper facilities or qualified professionals. If you plan to participate in a clinical trial, there are a few signs that you should look for in your research to ensure you are joining a legitimate study.
The hallmark of ethical research is the "informed consent" of participants. Informed consent means that participants understand the purpose of the study and its potential risks, and they voluntarily agree to participate. It is unethical to include individuals who do not know that they are part of the study or who have been forced to participate. In some cases, a designee can give informed consent if the participant is unable to do so (e.g., a parent giving informed consent for a child). The study should provide you will written and oral instructions that show all the potential risks, and provide you with a place to sign your consent. If a study lacks thorough paperwork and literature, it means that the researchers aren’t held legally responsible—something you definitely want to avoid. Although you participate at your own risk, you need to be fully aware of what you are getting involved in.
Legitimate clinical trials seek answers to questions that will contribute to essential scientific knowledge. Ethical researchers do not pursue frivolous or ideological quests, and they choose methods that are valid and reasonably capable of answering the research questions. You could play a pivotal role in helping doctors and scientists find new treatments and even cures for suffering patients and despondent families. However, this is only likely if you join a legitimate study that holds real scientific value.
APPROPRIATE SUBJECT SELECTION
Ethical researchers select participants for a clinical trial in relation to their research questions and the scientific goals of the study. Ethical researchers do not choose participants simply because they are convenient, or who come from vulnerable backgrounds unless such participants are particularly relevant to the study. If you notice that the clinical trial will take just about anybody, this might create cause for concern. Yes, some studies don’t require participants with a specific criteria, however, studies should still have some sort of method for choosing participants.
ACCEPTABLE RISK-BENEFIT RATIO
In clinical research, scientists typically test a new drug, device or procedure, and there is always a risk involved. Depending on the study, the risks of the research might be minimal or substantial and can be physical, psychological, economic, or social. A legitimate clinical study should thoroughly explain to you the risks versus the benefits before the trial starts. If you are uncomfortable with the high risks or lack of benefits, you might consider picking a different trial.
Because all research is subject to bias, ethically designed clinical trials include an independent review by a panel with no vested interest in the study. The panel will review the proposal to check the validity of the study's design and whether the risk-benefit ratio is acceptable. If the study doesn’t involve an unbiased third party serving as a review panel, you can’t be sure that it is completely and ethically legitimate.
Preparing to conduct, or to participate in, a clinical trial requires careful consideration of the scientific value and the risk-benefit ratio of the study. An ethical study will include an independent review and informed consent. While some studies might seem exciting, or promise a nice paycheck, it is of utmost importance to do thorough research before signing up. Look for the signs above to help you determine whether a study is in your best interest or not, and you’ll save yourself time and save your body from potentially dangerous trials. The information for this article was provided by research professionals who specialize in paid clinical trials in Utah.