Participating in a clinical trial is a great opportunity, but how do you know if it's the right fit for you? Everyone is different and what could be very beneficial to one person may be harmful to another. It would be best if you always ask your doctor before joining a study, but also take into consideration the risks and benefits for yourself and your situation.
Every clinical trial has its risks outlined in the study-specific informed consent, but there are a few risks that are a part of every study.
Unknown Side Effects: During the first phases of the research process, it is impossible to know all of the possible side effects. However, there are protections in place for the patients if a serious adverse event were to occur.
Unknown Effectiveness: In the initial stages of research, it is unknown if an intervention will work at all. An intervention must prove it is effective to move onto further stages of the research process. There is also always the possibility that something already available to the public works better than the intervention. In the later phases of research, some effectiveness is known and compared to what is currently on the market.
Possibility of Placebo: In clinical trials, there is often a control group that may receive a placebo. Subjects are assigned to groups randomly, and most of the time, the study team does not know who is in which group. This is to prevent what is known as the "placebo effect” and data biases.
Time Commitment: Clinical trials often require several in-person visits, phone calls, or even overnight stays. When the intervention is evaluated, it is essential for the study team to routinely monitor patients for side effects, adverse events, and overall effectiveness of the intervention. This can all be time-consuming. However, reimbursement for study-related time and travel is typically available for those that qualify and participate.
As with risks, there are specific benefits to every study and every person, but there are a few benefits that apply to all studies.
Play an Active Role in Your Healthcare: By choosing to join a research study, you are taking your healthcare into your own hands. You are choosing to know all the options and make a decision that is best for you. You don’t have to settle for what is already available to everyone else.
Access to Potential New Options: Participants in a clinical trial have the opportunity to access potential new treatment options before they are available to the public. These interventions could be novel breakthroughs, or they could just be a step up from their current therapies. Either way, this is usually at no cost to the subject.
Greater Physician Oversight: When taking an investigational intervention, it is essential to be monitored regularly for side effects and effectiveness. This requires much more oversight than at your primary care physician. You can rest assured that your condition and overall wellbeing is being carefully regulated when participating in a clinical trial.
Providing Hope for the Future: Clinical trials are the only way to get new treatments on the market and available for the public. By volunteering, you are helping to advance treatment options for people just like you and providing hope for future generations.
Is a Clinical Trial Right for You?
Now that you know a little about both sides, it’s up to you. If participating in a clinical trial sounds like the right option for you, visit our studies pages (South Houston, North Houston, Lake Charles, McAllan) to view all our enrolling studies. (Always consult with a doctor before joining a study.) Keep reading the rest of our blogs for more information on clinical trials!