Understanding Clinical Research Trials

Choosing to participate in a clinical trial is an important personal decision. The following frequently asked questions provide detailed information about clinical trials. In addition, it is often helpful to talk to a physician, family members, or friends about deciding to join a trial. After identifying some trial options, the next step is to contact the study research staff and ask questions about specific trials.

What is a clinical trial?
Who conducts clinical trials?
Where are clinical trials conducted?
How long are clinical studies conducted?
Reasons for conducting clinical studies
Why participate in a clinical trial?
Who can participate in a clinical trial?
What happens during a clinical trial?
What is informed consent?
What are the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial?
What are side effects and adverse reactions?
How is the safety of the participant protected?
What should people consider before participating in a trial?
What kind of preparation should a potential participant make for the meeting with the research coordinator or doctor?
Does a participant continue to work with a primary health care provider while in a trial?
Can a participant leave a clinical trial after it has begun?
Where do the ideas for trials come from?
Who sponsors clinical trials?
What is a protocol?
What is a placebo?
What is a control or control group?
What are the different types of clinical trials?
What are the phases of clinical trials?
What is an 'expanded access' protocol?