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Clinical Trials

From the Treatment Alternatives Articles List

Woman participating in a clinical trial being handed a tablet by a researcherWhat is a clinical trial? How do I get involved?


Clinical trials are a system of controlled research that use human volunteers to gather medical knowledge. Volunteers receive certain "interventions," which may include medication, devices, procedures, or behavioral changes. Researchers could be testing entirely new treatments or new versions of existing treatments.

This testing happens in phases, defined by the Food and Drug Administration. Human testing is very limited in the initial stages and gradually increases as they prove the interventions safe.

Because these trials have to maintain a specific level of control for accurate measurements, participants have to meet very specific requirements, called inclusion criteria, in order to be included.

Be aware that participating in a clinical study does not guarantee any immediate benefits to you. It may help you, it may do nothing, and it may cause further harm. Therefore, informed consent is vital if you are considering participating in a clinical trial. Here are some questions to ask before agreeing to participate:
  • What is being studied?
  • Why do researchers believe the intervention being tested might be effective? Why might it not be effective? Has it been tested before?
  • What are the possible interventions that I might receive during the trial?
  • What will I have to do?
  • What tests and procedures are involved?
  • How often will I have to visit the hospital or clinic?
  • Will hospitalization be required?
  • How long will the study last?

If you are interested in participating in a study, you can visit ClinicalTrials.gov. This is a service offered by the U.S. National Institutes of Health to help patients find clinical studies that may be beneficial to them.


This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

10-17-2013 - 06:47 PM


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