What are the benefits and risks of clinical trial participation?

Clinical trials help advance medicine and help medical professionals to understand new and potentially better ways how to prevent, diagnose, and treat illnesses. Clinical trials are studies that provide scientific research into whether or not new treatments and drugs work better (or worse) than current treatment methods and drugs. 

 

In order to do so, researchers need volunteers to participate in clinical trials. We understand that participating in a clinical trial is a big step, which is why we have listed below some potential risks (and also benefits) of participating in a study: 

 

Potential benefits of participating in a clinical trial: 

  • You may have access to new, cutting edge research and therefore new (potentially live-saving) treatments, before anybody else! 

  • You have a dedicated care team that is actually interested in your health! 

  • Often, participants report that participating in a clinical trial means better health due to some extra care that they would otherwise not receive. Participants report that they are seen more often by doctors than they normally would be. 

  • If you live in the US, you may be eligible to get care even if your insurance plan doesn’t cover certain things. However, it’s important to note that no one can force you to participate in a clinical trial and you can stop or leave the trial at any time during the clinical trial. 

  • You are helping others and future generations by taking part in clinical trials. For example, there are way fewer people dying of cancer than 20 years ago. Why? Because clinical trials helped to improve treatment methods, they helped to detect cancer earlier (diagnosis) and they helped to find out how to reduce the risk of getting cancer in the first place (prevention). 

 

There are also risks involved when it comes to clinical trials: 

  • When you participate in a clinical trial, you don’t know if the treatment you receive is actually better or more effective compared to the current standard treatment. It could also be less effective. 

  • Especially if it is an early-phase clinical trial (e.g. Phase 1 or 2), you may experience serious side effects from the treatments that can potentially be dangerous. 

  • You may need extra care and may need to come in to see the researchers for follow-up visits more often (time commitment). 

  • There is also the risk that you need to come in to get more tests done (that may be uncomfortable for you) or even follow a new, more complicated medical schedule than usual. 

 

There you have it. Participating in medical research can have many benefits, but also bears some risks. Before you consent to participate in a clinical trial, you need to make sure that you have all the information you need to actually make a decision. Here are ten questions you should have answers for when you think about joining a clinical study: 

 

  1. What is the purpose of the trial? (e.g. is it to find out if a drug or treatment works?)

  2. What phase is the trial and how many other people have already been enrolled? 

  3. What is expected of me when I join the clinical trial? How much time do I have to spend?

  4. Will I be compensated for time and travel? 

  5. Will I get attention from the doctor that is leading the study? 

  6. What tests would I need to get done and how would my care change compared to my usual schedule? 

  7. What are the risks involved in this trial? How likely are they to occur? 

  8. How will this trial benefit me? 

  9. How will this trial benefit others? 

  10. Have I discussed this with my family and close friends yet? 

 

If you’re interested to join a clinical study you can fill out our survey below.

Want to find out if you qualify for a clinical trial in your area? Take our short survey below!

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