What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is a way of finding out what the safest and most effective way to prevent or treat an illness/medical condition is.
Why do we do clinical trials?
Clinical trials help us find out what treatment works best for preventing or treating illnesses/medical conditions. Treatments could include:
- medical devices
- radiation treatment
- physical/sensory (e.g. light) or exercise therapies
- psychological therapies
- educational programmes
- Why are clinical trials important?
It is in everyone’s interest (patients & doctors) to know what’s the best way to treat or prevent a specific illness.
That is why we do clinical trials to find out which of the current treatments available work best. Before recommending or prescribing any new treatments, it is important to find out whether they are any more effective than existing treatments and if they cause any side effects. Clinical trials are designed to answer these questions, leading to better health and quality of life for patients.
Getting involved in clinical trials enables doctors to find to see whether the new methods are effective and safe. Trials are very carefully planned and regulated to ensure that patient safety is at their heart. Without them, there is a risk that people will be given treatments that don’t work, or could even be dangerous. Most NHS treatments have been tested in clinical trials.
What are the benefits of taking part in a trial?
- Throughout the trial your health will be closely monitored by a study doctor and/or study nurse.
- Seeing your doctor/nurse more often than you normally would and they will usually have more time to spend with you at each visit.
- The additional monitoring and extra tests received by patients taking part in trials can sometimes lead to early identification of other health problems which might not otherwise have been identified until later and these can be swiftly investigated.
- For patients with a specific medical condition which cannot be adequately treated with medications currently on the market, taking part in a clinical trial can mean they are able to have access to new treatments which are not yet available to the public.
- The treatment may or may not help you personally. However, in either case the results of the trial will improve doctors’ knowledge of how to treat other patients like you.
- In taking part in clinical trials, you will be adding to the knowledge of how to best treat or prevent a specific illness.