Q: I’ve heard the term “clinical trials,” but what are they? Why do people participate in them? How would I find out about current clinical trials, and is it hard to get into one?
A: By participating in clinical trials, you are playing a vital role in the research process to advance the treatment and even possible cures for diseases. Clinical trials are studies involving human participation. People choose to volunteer for clinical trials for many reasons including having a connection to a particular disease or a desire to help others.
Clinical trials take place at medical facilities throughout the country, and the National Institutes of Health maintains a data base - www.clinicaltrials.gov – that you may search in order to determine opportunities for participation. Sometimes the trials may have strict parameters for eligibility that you would need to work through before joining.
Participating in a clinical trial is a personal choice, and may not be right for everyone. Before you consider participating in a clinical trial make sure to review all the information from a consent form, as it will contain the detailed information about your particular study. It is also important to ask any questions if you have them. The study coordinator or any members of the research team will be happy to answer all of your questions. Finally, anyone may leave a clinical trial at any point in the process if they do not wish to continue.