Clinical trials are vital to the medical advancement process and to the development of new treatments. Clinical research participants get to play an active role in the development of modern medicine and health care. Incredibly, an experimental, life-saving treatment administered to a volunteer could one day be consumed by millions of Americans.
Take a deeper look into the clinical trial experience with our in-depth explanation of what goes into study participation.
What does it mean to be a clinical study participant?
Clinical studies are conducted with human volunteers in order to analyze the effectiveness of experimental new treatments. The study participants will receive medical care at health facilities for the duration of the trial and will receive access to new medical treatments before they are widely available to the public.
The number of desired volunteers and the length of the trial depends largely on the phase of the clinical study—this could be for weeks, months, or even years. Study organizers will always disclose this information upfront, as volunteers must be available for the duration of the time period.
What kind of clinical studies can I participate in?
Any health care treatments and medications you have heard of came to fruition after extensive research through clinical studies. This means that clinical trials cover a wide range of topics:
- Intervention studies: Are there better treatment methods than those currently available?
- Prevention studies: How can certain diseases and conditions be prevented?
- Diagnostic and screening studies: Are there more effective ways to diagnose diseases?
- Behavioral research: Which behavioral traits are related to a specific diagnosis?
- Quality of life studies: How can the quality of life of those diagnoses with diseases/medical conditions be improved?
- Observational studies: How can the health of individuals change over time?
Each study has different guidelines and eligibility requirements. If you are interested in joining a specific study, you must first find out if you meet the “inclusion criteria,” or factors that allow participation in the study. Some studies require healthy participants, while others seek those with specific diseases and/or medical conditions.
How does participating in clinical studies affect day-to-day life?
Because clinical study topics range so vastly, day-to-day protocol is also unique to each study. Before joining a study, make sure you are well-informed, and that you have asked yourself the following questions:
- What are the possible risks involved?
- What are the possible side effects? How severe are they?
- How much time and energy would be spent with complex dosage schedules and/or frequent trips to the study site?
What do other clinical study participants think of their experiences?
According to Forte Research, only about 10% of Americans have participated in clinical studies. While about 95% of those clinical study participants said they would consider participating in another clinical study in the future, only about 88% of participants talk about their experience after the study concludes.
It’s possible that this is due to lack of public appreciation, a desire to keep health issues private, or a lack of immediate study visibility (as it often takes years for clinical research results to become public) resulting in a loss of interest.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a law designed to protect patient and participant privacy pertaining to medical records and other health information.
How can I get started?
If you’re interested in a clinical study, please tell us a little more about yourself in the Contact section of our home page and we will respond to you to determine your eligibility for current and future studies.
You can also visit ClinicalTrials.gov and CenterWatch.com for clinical trial information in different locations across the country. Additionally, your doctor and/or community hospital may be involved in clinical trials and can advise you on which one may be the right fit for you.