Clinical trials are a key research tool for advancing medical knowledge and patient care. Clinical research is done only if doctors don't know
- whether a new approach works well in people and is safe and
- which treatments or strategies work best for certain illnesses or groups of people.
Some clinical trials show a positive result. For example, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) sponsored a trial of two different combinations of asthma treatments. The trial found that one of the combinations worked much better than the other for moderate persistent asthma. The results provided important treatment information for doctors and patients.
The results from other clinical trials show what doesn't work or may cause harm. For example, the NHLBI Women's Health Initiative tested whether hormone therapy (HT) reduced the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women. (When the trial began, HT was already in common use for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. It also was increasingly being used for prevention of heart disease.)
The study found that HT increased the risk of heart disease in the first few years, and HT also increased the risk of stroke and blood clots. In women who took a combination of estrogen and progestin, the risk of breast cancer also increased.
As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now recommends never using HT to prevent heart disease. When HT is used for menopausal symptoms, it should be taken only at the smallest dose and for the shortest time possible.
Clinical trials, like the two described above, help improve and advance medical care. They also can help health care decisionmakers direct resources to the strategies and treatments that work best.
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.