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You can take part in a clinical trial

You may be eligible to take part in a clinical trial to receive new treatment for your illness, while you help others with theirs. By participating in a clinical trial, you can play a more active role in your own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research.

What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are research studies that follow a pre-defined protocol. Guidelines about who can participate may include age, gender, the type and stage of a disease, previous treatment, and other medical conditions. Some research studies seek participants with illnesses or conditions to be studied in the clinical trial, while others need healthy participants.

Participants work with a research team that includes doctors and nurses, social workers and other health care professionals. They check the health of the participant at the beginning of the trial, give specific instructions for participating in the trial, monitor the participant carefully during the trial, and stay in touch after the trial is completed. The participant may withdraw from the trial at any time.

Benefits
Clinical trials allow participants to:

  • Play an active role in their own health care.
  • Gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available.
  • Obtain expert medical care at leading health care facilities during the trial.
  • Help others by contributing to medical research.

Risks
There are risks to clinical trials.

  • There may be unpleasant, serious or even life-threatening side effects to experimental treatment.
  • The experimental treatment may not be effective for the participant.
  • The protocol treatment may require more time and attention than would a non-protocol treatment, including trips to the study site, more treatments or hospital stays.

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How is the safety of the participant protected?
Most clinical research is federally regulated with built in safeguards to protect the participants. A carefully controlled study plan details what researchers will do in the study. As it progresses, researchers report the results of the trial at scientific meetings, to medical journals and to various government agencies. Individual participants’ names remain secret

People considering participating in a trial should ask questions such as these:

  • Why do researchers believe the experimental treatment being tested may be effective? Has it been tested before?
  • What kinds of tests and experimental treatments are involved?
  • How do the possible risks, side effects, and benefits in the study compare with my current treatment?
  • How might this trial affect my daily life?
  • Who will pay for the experimental treatment?
  • Will I be reimbursed for other expenses?
  • What type of long-term follow up care is part of this study?

Who sponsors clinical trials?
Clinical trials are sponsored or funded by physicians, medical institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical companies and federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Trials may take place in hospitals, universities, doctors’ offices or community clinics.

How can I find out about participating?
To find clinical trials you might qualify to participate in, visit ClinicalTrials.gov, which gives you information about a trial’s purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers for more details.

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