Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. These studies also may show which medical approaches work best for certain illnesses or groups of people. Clinical trials produce the best data available for health care decisionmaking.
The purpose of clinical trials is research, so the studies follow strict scientific standards. These standards protect patients and help produce reliable study results.
Clinical trials are one of the final stages of a long and careful research process. The process often begins in a laboratory (lab), where scientists first develop and test new ideas.
If an approach seems promising, the next step may involve animal testing. This shows how the approach affects a living body and whether it's harmful. However, an approach that works well in the lab or animals doesn't always work well in people. Thus, research in humans is needed.
For safety purposes, clinical trials start with small groups of patients to find out whether a new approach causes any harm. In later phases of clinical trials, researchers learn more about the new approach's risks and benefits.
A clinical trial may find that a new strategy, treatment, or device:
All of these results are important because they advance medical knowledge and help improve patient care.
Children and Clinical Studies: Messages for researchers
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans.
December 26, 2012
Benefits of higher oxygen, breathing device persist after infancy
By the time they reached toddlerhood, very preterm infants originally treated with higher oxygen levels continued to show benefits when compared to a group treated with lower oxygen levels, according to a follow-up study by a research network of the National Institutes of Health that confirms earlier network findings, Moreover, infants treated with a respiratory therapy commonly prescribed for adults with obstructive sleep apnea fared as well as those who received the traditional therapy for infant respiratory difficulties, the new study found.
December 9, 2013
Gary H. Gibbons
Epidemiologist Immerses Himself in Big Data as He Studies the Link Between HIV and Cardiovascular Disease
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.