Generally speaking, Clinical Trials are the primary way for researchers to determine if certain treatments are safe and effective. They help facilitate breakthroughs in medicine and blaze the trail for new therapies. With that said, progress would be impossible without the participation of hundreds of thousands volunteers.
When to Join a Clinical Trial
Whether you have a diagnosis that feels overwhelming or are interested in alternative options, there may be existing clinical trials that offer potential treatments you may not otherwise have access to. If your condition and/or current treatments greatly impact your daily activities or reduce your quality of life, it may be helpful to consider clinical trials.
It should be noted that just because research exists for your specific condition, it does not always mean that you are an ideal candidate for that study. Every clinical trial has specific criteria outlining who is eligible to participate. These are often based on demographics such as age, but also factors such as overall health, severity of the disease, treatment history and other conditions. If you are unsure whether or not you qualify, we typically suggest you reach out to a clinical study coordinator to learn more.
Benefits of Participating in a Clinical Trial
Participating in a clinical trial may give you access to cutting-edge potential treatment options, allowing you to take a more active role in your health care. Often there may be more benefits that go even beyond improving your own quality of life. If your diagnosis has a genetic component, you also have the potential to help your family for generations to come by making new treatments available. From an even broader perspective, by participating in a clinical trial, you are contributing to research that has the potential to change lives globally and help people struggling with the same diagnosis as you.
Volunteering for medical research can be really important for advancements of the research community. The pharmaceutical or biotech company that is sponsoring the study will oftentimes pay for expenses that are incurred due to your participation. While participation in a clinical trial may require more monitoring and appointments than standard care treatment, you may also benefit from a more predictable, hands-on level of care from providers at leading health care facilities, often allowing you to feel more in control of your health journey.
Considerations Before Joining a Clinical Trial
When deciding if you should join a clinical trial, you should contemplate whether the potential health benefits will outweigh the possible risks. While your health and safety are always the priority of any study, the new treatment may have unknown side effects or it may not improve your condition. You should talk to your healthcare provider and let them know that you are considering participating in a trial so that you can navigate the process together.
Additionally, while many clinical trials serve a similar purpose, they are not all created equal. For example, some studies are informed by patient advocacy groups which ensures the perspective of real patients is considered in the design of the trial. Because patient voices are heard during the development process, there are often better outcomes for participants. Be sure to generate a list of questions to ask the study coordinator to ensure you are comfortable with what is expected of you for the duration of the study. Consider questions about what the trial itself would entail, what your medical care would look like, if there are costs and opportunities for reimbursement involved, and what happens after the trial ends. At the end of the day, choosing to join a clinical trial is a personal choice and your decision to participate should be well informed.