- 1.What Are Clinical Trials?
- 2.Who Sponsors Clinical Trials?
- 3.Why Are Clinical Trials Important?
- 4.How Do Clinical Trials Work?
- 5.Who Can Participate in Clinical Trials?
- 6.What To Expect During a Clinical Trial
- 7.What Are the Possible Benefits and Risks of Clinical Trials?
- 8.How Do Clinical Trials Protect Participants?
- 9.Finding Clinical Trials
- 10.Links to Other Information About Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. These studies also may show which medical approaches work best for certain illnesses or groups of people. Clinical trials produce the best data available for health care decisionmaking.
The purpose of clinical trials is research, so the studies follow strict scientific standards. These standards protect patients and help produce reliable study results.
Clinical trials are one of the final stages of a long and careful research process. The process often begins in a laboratory (lab), where scientists first develop and test new ideas.
If an approach seems promising, the next step may involve animal testing. This shows how the approach affects a living body, and whether it’s harmful. However, an approach that works well in the lab or animals doesn’t always work well in people. Thus, research in humans is needed.
For safety purposes, clinical trials start with small groups of patients to find out whether a new approach causes any harm. In later phases of clinical trials, researchers learn more about the new approach’s risks and benefits.
A clinical trial may find that a new strategy, treatment, or device:
- Improves patient outcomes
- Offers no benefit
- Causes unexpected harm
All of these results are important because they advance medical knowledge and help improve patient care.