A clinical trial is a carefully designed research study that investigates the effectiveness of a specific treatment for a particular group of people. Well designed clinical trials are the fastest way to find treatments that work. Participants are closely monitored by knowledgeable, experienced physicians (investigators) and health care professionals (clinical research coordinators).
Clinical trials usually involve three phases. In Phase I, a small number of participants are tested to assess drug safety. Phase II tests the ideal drug dosage and Phase III is a larger study to assess both safety and efficacy.
To provide an added level of safety and oversight, all clinical trials are approved by an independent Institutional Review Board (IRB). Interventional trials determine whether experimental treatments or new ways of using known therapies are safe and effective under controlled environments.
Benefits of Clinical Trials
Participating in a clinical trial has many potential benefits. These include:
Access to the latest treatments before they are widely available
Possible compensation for your time and reimbursement for extra services
Closer monitoring of your condition by expert medical professionals
Improved medical knowledge that can benefit others
Clinical trials may also involve some drawbacks. The new treatment may:
Not benefit you even if it benefits others
Prove less beneficial than doctors hope and even less effective than an existing treatment
Cause unanticipated side effects
Involve more frequent visits to your physician’s office