Research through clinical trials are an important way that the medical community finds answers to special health questions. Clinical trials are the safest and fastest way to find effective treatments to improve the lives of patients. Physicians and research institutions work with human volunteers in a carefully designed and conducted study that follows a particular protocol. This protocol describes what types of patients may enter the study, and provides the patients with information about the schedule of tests and procedures, drugs used and how they are administered, length of the study and what type of outcomes will be measured during the study. Each person participating in the study must agree to the rules of the study.

Treatment trials study new drugs or new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy.

Prevention trials look for better ways to prevent disease or to prevent a disease from returning.

Diagnostic trials find better tests or procedures for diagnosing a particular disease or condition.

Screening trials test the best way to find certain diseases or conditions through screening tests.

Quality of Life trials study new ways to improve comfort for those with a chronic illness.

The advances in medicine that we take for granted today such as dialysis, organ transplants and prescription drug therapies are only available because someone was the first patient to use the experimental treatment for the good of everyone. Without experimentation and research on humans, medical technology could not improve.

Participation is Important

Participation in a clinical trial is completely voluntary. Volunteers often decide to participate for access to a medical treatment that is not yet available. By participating in a clinical trial you are choosing to help doctors learn more about specific conditions and treatment options which may in the future help you and others, but it can also show the indications for any negative effects.

Because it is important that new treatment strategies are safe and effective for everyone, the FDA tries to ensure that all groups of people are included in clinical trials, including those of different age groups, races, ethnicities and gender. And, just as there are different groups of people who are being studied in clinical trials, there are different reasons why people want to participate in them. Whatever the reason, it is important for each individual to weigh the potential benefits against the possible risks associated with the trial.

BENEFITS: By participating in a clinical trail you will help yourself and others by contributing to medical research, but also gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available. Your care will be supervised by physician investigators who are specialists in the disease being studied. Clinical studies provide patient protections through independent review boards, physicians, lawyers, patient advocates and others who approve each trial and monitor that patients are monitored frequently.

RISKS: While your care will follow a protocol and be closely monitored, you need to be aware that there may be unpleasant, serious or even life-threatening side effects to experimental treatment. Its possible the treatment may not be effective for you or may not be better than the treatment you are already doing. You cannot choose which treatment you receive and it cold require more time and attention than would a non-protocol treatment, including trips to the study site, more treatments, or additional requirements – your study specialist will inform you of all the guidelines and participating requirements. The federal government has regulations and guidelines for clinical research to protect participants from unreasonable risks.

Thousands of people participate in clinical trials every year and have the satisfaction of know that they are playing a role in guiding their own health care. The research study is a safe way to help people and improve overall clinical care.

Please click here for a list of the ongoing US National Institutes of Health-sponsored clinical trials.

For current studies at our research site click here.



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