Taking part in a clinical trial can have many benefits. For example, you may gain access to new treatments before they're widely available. If a new treatment is proven to work and you're in the group getting it, you might be among the first to benefit.
If you're in a clinical trial and don't get the new strategy being tested, you may receive the current standard care for your condition. This treatment might be as good as, or better than, the new approach. You also will have the support of a team of health care providers, who will likely monitor your health closely.
In late-phase clinical trials, possible benefits or risks of a treatment can be identified earlier than they would be in general medical practice. This is because late-phase trials have large groups of similar patients taking the same treatment the same way. These patients are closely watched by Data and Safety Monitoring Boards.
Even if you don't directly benefit from the results of the clinical trial you take part in, the information gathered can help others and add to scientific knowledge. People who take part in clinical trials are vital to the process of improving medical care. Many people volunteer because they want to help others.
Clinical trials do have risks and some downsides, such as the following.
- The new strategies and treatments being studied aren't always better than current standard care.
- Even if a new approach benefits some participants, it may not work for you.
- A new treatment may have side effects or risks that doctors don't know about or expect. This is especially true during phase I and phase II clinical trials. The risk of side effects might be even greater for trials with cutting-edge approaches, such as gene therapy or new biological treatments.
- Health insurance and health care providers don't always cover all patient care costs for clinical trials. If you're thinking about taking part in a clinical trial, find out ahead of time about costs and coverage.
You should learn about the risks and benefits of any clinical trial before you agree to take part in the trial. Talk with your doctor about specific trials you're interested in. For a list of questions to ask your doctor and the research staff, go to "How Do Clinical Trials Protect Participants?"
Children and Clinical Studies: Messages for researchers08/15/2013
In this video, more than a dozen pediatric clinician-researchers, doctors, and nurses talk about the importance of conducting clinical trials for children and their own motivations for pursuing research in this field.
Children and Clinical Studies: For parents and caregivers08/15/2013
In this video, more than a dozen pediatric clinician-researchers, doctors, and nurses talk about the importance of conducting clinical trials for children while addressing common questions that parents and caregivers face when they are considering enrolling a child in a clinical study.
Children are not little adults, yet they are often given medicines and treatments that were only tested in adults. The way to get the best treatments for children is through research designed specifically for them.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) remains committed to ensuring that families get all the information they need to feel comfortable and make informed decisions. The safety of children is the utmost priority for all NIH research studies.