Clinical trials are research studies designed to test the effectiveness of medical innovations such as new medications or medical devices. Well-designed and well-executed clinical trials can provide benefits to eligible participants that include playing an active role in their own health care, gaining access to new research treatments before they are widely available, obtaining expert medical care at leading health care facilities during the trial and helping others by contributing to medical research.
Risks posed by clinical trials may include unpleasant, serious or even life-threatening side effects. Because the drug or device is still being studied, the safety and effectiveness are not yet fully known. In addition, the treatment may not work. Finally, it may take more time and effort than an alternative treatment because of trips to the study site, more treatments and/or follow up, hospital stays or complex dosage requirements.
Clinical trial participants may be compensated for their participation. The amount of compensation varies and is usually determined by the trial's time commitment and any physical discomfort that may result from the study.
Participation in a clinical trial, as with any treatment, involves weighing benefits and risks to arrive at a decision that best meets personal or treatment goals.