Clinical trials are research studies performed on living, human patients who offer up voluntary answers to investigative questions. These studies are performed to gain information on specific biological and health issues. Currently, thousands of clinical trials, both privately and federally funded, are in existence worldwide.
If you wish to participate in a clinical trial, you will need to first meet certain, preset requirements. Typically, criteria involve factors such as age, gender, medical history, and stage of your disease. Because clinical trials are research studies, these criteria must be kept constant among all participants.
How will participating in a clinical trial benefit and/or harm me?
Clinical trials may involve intervention, typically in the form of some type of treatment (often a new drug), or they may only incorporate observation and questioning. As a participant in a clinical trial, you may gain certain benefits. You may:
- Play a more active role in your own health care as well as that of others
- Be given new treatment methods before others are allowed access
- Directly contribute to medical research and (hopefully) the development of more advanced, more effective treatment techniques
Clearly, there are a number of benefits to reap from participating in clinical trials. However, you should also consider the risks before agreeing to participate. You could possibly face the following consequences, since you may be receiving experimental treatment. You might:
- Experience potentially harmful or even life-threatening side effects
- Experience no benefit from your administered treatment
- Have to endure a greater demand on your time so that you can participate in extra observation and adhere to more complicated and longer dosing
It is important for you to consider both the risks and the benefits of your clinical trial before agreeing to participate. Certain studies are different than others, and some may be more invasive than others. Speak with your physician about how a clinical trial may benefit or affect you.
Getting into a Clinical Trial
If you decide that you want to participate in one of these trials, there is no guarantee that you will be selected as a participant. In order to find out if you can take part, you will have to go through a pre-trial screening. During this interview, you will be questioned on the stage of your disease, any medications you are currently taking, your medical history, as well as any other pre-existing conditions that could potentially interfere with the trial’s results. It will then be determined whether or not you are a good candidate for the clinical trial.