What It Means to Participate in a Clinical Trial

Opting to become a clinical research patient should never be taken lightly. You should understand what it means to participate in a clinical trial before making your decision. As a clinical trial volunteer, you will be playing a crucial part in the development of groundbreaking medical therapies that may ultimately lead to better treatments or even cures for diseases and disorders.

What Can Patients Expect When They Enroll in a Clinical Study?

All medical research trials have strict guidelines about who can participate in the studies. Usually, you will undergo a complete physical and be asked to provide your medical records. Once you are enrolled, a physician or a research staff member will review your medical history and ask you pertinent questions. During the entire clinical trial and afterward, your health will be closely monitored by a physician and his team of medical research staff.

Questions to Ask About the Medical Research Study

Prior to enrolling in a clinical trial, you should ask lots of questions about the medical research being conducted. You will be provided with a very detailed description of what will be expected of you when you participate in the clinical study. You will also be given consent forms to fill out along with detailed information on the clinical trial.

Here are a few questions that you should ask about the medical research study.

  • How long is the clinical trial expected to last?
  • What are the purpose and long-term goal of the study?
  • Where is the study being conducted?
  • Are there any risks involved?
  • What treatments will be used during the trial and how will the they be implemented?
  • What sort of steps will be taken to keep the patient safe?
  • What benefits are hoped to be gained?
  • Are there alternative treatments besides the one being tested in the clinical trial?
  • Do I have to pay for any part of the trial?
  • Who is the sponsor of the trial?
  • What happens if I should suffer harm during the trial?
  • Can I continue to use the treatment, even after the clinical trial ends?

What Protections are in Place to Make Sure Participants are Safe?

The protection of all clinical trial participants is of paramount importance to any medical researcher. Here are is a list of the protections that are in place for clinical research volunteers.

Scientific Oversight

IRB —  All studies are required to be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (IRB).  The purpose of the IRB is to assure that all necessary steps are taken to ensure the rights and safety of the research participant and that the research is ethical to conduct.

DSMB – Many studies have Data Safety Monitoring Boards (DSMB). The role of the DSMB consists of reviewing all clinical trial data for safety. They also explore the differences in results gained by different research groups.

FDA — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees all clinical trials that involve medication and medical devices that are seeking approval for use in the United States.

Patient Rights

As a patient in a clinical trial, you will be provided with all required consent forms before embarking on the trial. The forms will detail your rights, all medications being used, and all treatments. You can withdraw from a clinical trial at any time. During the trial, you have the right to know about any changes, new risks, or findings that might emerge.

Benefits of Being a Clinical Trial Participant

As a participant in a clinical trial, you will have many benefits. Here are just a few of the perks you experience as a medical research trial volunteer.

  • Access to new and innovative treatments.
  • Included standard care for your condition.
  • Support from a team of qualified health care providers.
  • Your health will be closely monitored by a physician and his team of medical researchers.
  • The feeling of fulfillment knowing that you are helping others and perhaps participating in scientific breakthroughs.

How to Find Clinical Trials

Here are a few ways that would-be medical research participants can locate suitable clinical trials.

Physicians: Most potential medical research patients learn about clinical trials from their physicians.

Online Lists: The National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, CenterWatch, and pharmaceutical/biotechnology firms maintain lists of clinical trials on their websites. Additionally, all research studies are required to be listed on the website: clinicaltrials.gov

Matching Services: Some online companies, such as EmergingMed, work as matching services in order to match you with a clinical trial that best fits your specific needs.

Being a participant in a clinical trial means that you are helping on the front lines of innovative and pioneering medical research. You will be playing a vital and key role in the development of medications and treatments that may ultimately help countless individuals.