What is a Research Study/Clinical Trial?

Clinical trials are research studies that involve patient volunteers to help find new ways to treat a disease and improve overall care. Each study is designed to answer specific scientific questions and help find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat a disease.

What happens during a Clinical Trial?

When someone chooses to take part in a clinical trial, the care they receive is much like the care they would otherwise receive. However, there is often additional monitoring for the purpose of learning about potential side effects and benefits of the study. All participants receive this same treatment. Other trials compare a study treatment to the standard treatment method. In this type of study, participants are randomly assigned to receive one or the other treatment. Neither the participant nor their doctor can choose their treatment for important scientific reasons. Some people worry that they will not know what treatment they are receiving or that they will receive a placebo, sometimes called a “sugar pill.” Placebos are never used in place of a treatment that is known to work. Participants will always be told before agreeing to take part in a trial, if a placebo is going to be considered.

What is Informed Consent?

Informed consent means that patients must be told the key facts about the clinical trial before deciding whether to take part. If the patient agrees to take part, the informed consent process involves signing a form that details study treatment, potential side effects and benefits. Participants may withdraw their decision to participate at any time and for any reason.

Why are Clinical Trials Important?

Clinical trials are a vital part of the process in finding new treatment methods. These research studies are conducted to determine if a particular treatment is safe and effective. Today’s research will guide the improvements for tomorrow’s care.

Should I participate in a Clinical Trial?

The decision to take part in a clinical trial is a personal one. You may wish to talk to your family and loved ones, as well as members of your healthcare team, before deciding. As with all treatments, there can be risks as well as possible benefits from taking part in clinical trials. Study treatment may be found to be more or less effective than standard treatment methods and have side effects not yet known. You will be informed of these risks as much as possible. Your healthcare team will give you the information that you need to make the decision that is right for you.

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