The Pros and Cons of Participating in a Clinical Trial

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Clinical trials are used to help evaluate the effectiveness and safety of new treatments. This could be a new drug, a different approach to a particular treatment, such as radiation therapy or combining two or more treatments. Clinical trials are normally the last steps of a long research process. New treatments or approaches to treatment usually begin in a laboratory, where researchers test different ideas. For those ideas that seem promising, clinical trials allow researchers to test treatments on individuals. Researchers look at how well the treatment works as well as any potential side effects. Patients are closely monitored during the entire process.

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    Deciding whether or not to participate in a clinical trial is an individual decision, although many people may choose to discuss this option with both their doctor and their family before making a decision. While there are many benefits to joining in a clinical trial, there is also a downside. In this post, we look at both the pros and the cons of participating so you can make a better decision.

     

    Pros

     

    You may have access to new treatments that are not yet available to the general public. You may have found that available treatments have not helped improve your condition as much as you would like. Promising new treatments are being researched everyday and one of these treatments may be right for you.

     

    You will receive increased, quality medical care for your condition during the clinical trial. Monitoring patients for improvements and side effects of treatment is an essential part of the research. You may receive medical care from a team of experts specific to your condition.  

     

    Having access to the treatment team may not only give you information on the new treatment but can be a valuable source of education about your overall medical condition.

     

    You will be helping to improve medical care for your condition. The results of the study, if positive, will help others suffering from the same condition in the future.

    By participating in a clinical trial, you are taking an active role in your own medical care and may be one of the first people to benefit from a new treatment.

     

    Cons

     

    The new treatment you are testing may have side effects researchers are not aware of or do not expect and you may experience these side effects.

     

    If you are participating in a blind, randomized trial, you will not be aware of what medication or treatment you are receiving. If the trial involves a placebo, you will not be aware of whether you are taking a new medication or a placebo. This is so the results of the study are more accurate but may delay you receiving proper treatment.

     

    One of the Pros listed above is the increased level of medical care you will receive during the clinical trial but that also means more trips to the doctor and more time spent at the doctor's office. Depending on your life, this could be a major disadvantage.

     

    Your regular doctor may not be able to treat your condition or give you certain medications while you are participating in the study.

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    If the treatment you are testing is effective, you may still need to end the treatment and go back to standard treatments once the trial ends and until the treatment is available to the general public.

     

    The treatment being tested may turn out to be less effective that the standard treatments for your condition.

     

    If you are interested in finding out if there is any current clinical trials in your area, for your condition, you can visit: ClinicalTrials.gov.

     

    See also:  Everything You Need to Know About Cancer Clinical Trials

     

    References:

     

    "What is a Clinical Trial?" Date Unknown, Staff Writer, The Ohio State University

     

Published On: February 24, 2012