There are lots of different types of research study that patients might be asked to take part in. Not all clinical research is necessarily about new drugs and can involve just the collection of samples, observing patients or looking at their quality of life in relation to their health. However these studies are just as important in finding out how best to treat patients.
There are different types of clinical trial that involve drugs. Some clinical trials consist of one type of treatment. Others include a process known as randomisation, which means that patients are randomly allocated (like tossing a coin) to one of two or more courses of treatment. These treatments may include new drugs, new combinations of drugs or what is already considered to be standard treatment. When a clinical trial includes randomisation, nobody (not the patient or the medical staff) know beforehand which treatment the participants will be allocated to. Randomisation is done by computer and this allocation concealment is an important step to ensure that the trial is a fair test of the treatments. Not all patients taking part in a trial will necessarily be given the drug that is being tested, but will get a currently used drug instead.
The main benefits of taking part in a Clinical Trial
The main risks of taking part in a Clinical Trial
All of these should be explained to you thoroughly by your medical team. You should have the opportunity to have any questions answered and if necessary to discuss your options with your family or partner.
If you participate in a clinical trial or any other research study, it is important to remember:
Your participation in a clinical trial should always be your choice. It’s not for everyone - if you decide to withdraw at any time you will simply return to standard NHS care.