Find out more about research and clinical trials and decide if you want to get involved.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are medical research studies that test whether different treatments are safe and how well they work. Clinical trials are essential for developing new and improved treatments that can improve healthcare for both adults and children. New potential treatments may or may not be better than an existing one, and a trial is designed to find out. Clinical trials intend to find the best ways to prevent disease, increase survival rates, improve the quality of life for people living with an illness and diagnose diseases and health problems.
Are they safe?
Large quantities of people take part in thousands of clinical trials in the UK every year. A precise, structured process is followed which includes a review by the NHS Research Ethics Committee. This protects the rights, dignity, safety and well being of participants whilst on a clinical trial. All trials are designed to keep risks to a minimum. The research team will only ask people to take part who are suitable for the treatments being compared. The participants involved in the study are monitored carefully throughout the study and their safety and well being is paramount.
What happens if I decide to take part?
Before you can be entered onto a study you must give Informed Consent. This means you must be given clear, concise information about what the trial is for and what will be involved if you decide to take part. Even if you give Informed consent initially, you can always withdraw from the trial at any time without giving a reason and this will not affect the treatment you receive from the NHS. If patients are unable to give consent, there are a few exceptional circumstances when people might be entered into a trial and informed consent may be given by a relative or other legal representative.
Types of trials
Clinical trials have four phases that are designed to eliminate risks and provide the researcher with the necessary answers they need to continue with the next step. You may hear words such as randomized, blind/double blind, placebo, controlled and observational. Your Research Practitioner will explain this terminology if you decide to take part.
What are the risks and benefits?
Clinical trials are carefully designed to reduce any risks and get the most benefits for everyone taking part, whatever treatment they receive. Some trials have very little risk involved. Your research practitioner will monitor your health and well being regularly during and after the study. You may have extra tests and be asked some extra questions about how you are feeling. People who take part in clinical trials often feel that they are taking an active part in their health care.
Will I get paid?
Patients usually join trials to help improve medical knowledge about how to treat their own condition, or in the hope of gaining benefit from a new treatment or the support offered to people taking part. If volunteers receive money it may be to cover travelling expenses.
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