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What is it like to participate in a clinical trial?

You may feel that participating in a clinical trial would give you better access to treatment, or perhaps you would like to help advance knowledge that can save or improve lives. In a clinical trial, human subjects volunteer as participants in a research study to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a medical innovation such as a new medication or medical device.

While the process for a clinical trial depends on the kind of trial being conducted, there are many common elements. The participant works with a research team that includes doctors and nurses as well as social workers and other healthcare professionals. This team checks the participant's health at the beginning of the trial, gives specific instructions for participating in the trial, monitors the participant carefully during the trial and stays in touch after the trial is completed. Some clinical trials involve more tests and doctor visits than the participant would normally have for an illness or condition. Clinical trial participation is most successful when the plan for the research study (the protocol) is carefully followed and there is frequent contact with the research staff.

From the start of the clinical trial, you'll be on a team and will have an important part to play. Before the clinical trial begins, you will be asked to undergo some tests. These are usually blood tests or imaging tests, like x-rays or scans. During the trial, your doctors will keep a close eye on you and give you regular check-ups to make sure you're doing well and to see how well your treatment is working. You will have additional tests like blood tests to see how the new treatment is affecting your body. The doctors may also ask you to keep an electronic diary or fill out questionnaires to record how you feel. Always tell your parents and doctor whenever you're not feeling well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.