Pros and Cons of Clinical Trial Participation

Clinical trials, also called interventional studies, are one of the two primary forms of clinical studies. The other clinical studies are called observational studies.

The difference is clinical trials are medical studies where researchers actively change your treatment during testing. Observational studies only require you to allow researchers to monitor your medical progress during your existing treatment routines. During clinical trials, researchers either give you new medications or placebo pills. You typically test new types of medical equipment or other remedies. Some trials use existing medication but test for effectiveness against other symptoms.

Clinical trials are essential steps in the process of establishing new remedies for diseases. They are used to make sure new treatments or combinations of treatments are safe. If you are considering participating in clinical trials, then it is important to understand all the benefits and drawbacks involved. Some clinical trials can be risky, but they also have the potential to provide scientific and medical advancements. Here are some of the top pros and cons of clinical trial participation.

A Clinical Trial May Provide You With Better Medical Care

One of the pros of clinical trial participation is the medical condition you have is closely monitored during testing. The researchers must track your progress carefully to see if the remedy being tested is effective. In fact, you may be required to keep a log of your daily activities and symptoms.

If you suffer from a chronic or difficult to treat condition, then the extra level of monitoring may be critical. It can be shared with your doctor to fine-tune your treatment regimen when the clinical trial is over. The researchers can also use the information to see if the care or medication you receive during the trial is working.

A clinical trial may also provide you with better medical care due to the success level of the treatment. The purpose of a clinical trial is typically to test a new piece of medical equipment, medication or another form of medical therapy. The remedy you are asked to test may yield better results than those you receive through any existing form of conventional medical treatment.

Early access to effective remedies through clinical trial participation may allow you to receive helpful or even life-saving medical treatment before other patients have access to this treatment. Such quick treatment may be particularly valuable to you if you are suffering from a chronic or potentially fatal illness, such as certain types of cancer.

Clinical Trial Participation Allows You to Help Other Patients

According to the National Institutes of Health, a common reason to participate in a clinical trial is to help other patients in the future. If you want to play a role in medical or scientific advancement, then clinical trial participation is an excellent way to do so. The clinical trial may not produce immediate positive results for you. However, the knowledge gained can lead to future successful studies.

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If you are a member of a minority, then your clinical trial participation can be particularly helpful to the scientific community. Minority participation in clinical trials is often low. From 2003 to 2013 only two percent of clinical trial participants in trials funded by the National Cancer Institute were members of minorities. According to the National Institutes of Health, minority clinical trial participation is still low in 2018. Therefore, there are several gaps in scientific research regarding the effectiveness of certain medical treatments on minority groups.

Clinical Trial Participation Can Provide You With Extra Money Sometimes

If your main reason desire to participate in a clinical trial is monetary compensation, then you must consider several factors before signing up. For example, clinical trials often have different funding methods. The research may be entirely funded by donations from corporations or private citizens.

However, you may have expenses not covered by such donations. It is possible your health insurance covers some aspects of your medical monitoring and treatment during the clinical trial, but do not assume so. Ask if there are any costs you be required to cover before agreeing to participate. Also, consider secondary associated costs like gas mileage.

Another financial layer of clinical trial participation to consider is compensation for your participation. Monetary compensation is often used by clinical trial researchers as an incentive to encourage participation. However, such compensation is not offered in every instance. Factors affecting whether you receive financial compensation and how much you can receive include:

  • Risk
  • Size of tested group.
  • Phase of testing.
  • Area of medicine covered by the clinical trial.

To receive the most compensation, you must typically participate in a Phase I clinical trial. This is the earliest phase of testing when a potential remedy is newly developed. At this stage, the risks for side effects are potentially high, but the testing group is usually less than 80 participants, according to the National Institutes of Health. Therefore, researchers can usually provide high financial compensation for you and other participants.

Clinical Trial Participation is Potentially Risky and Inconvenient

When a new medical technique or medication is tested in a clinical trial, it is not yet available to the general public. This is because researchers do not yet know enough about it to declare it safe. Therefore, when you agree to participate in a clinical trial, you may be putting yourself at some level of risk. The exact level depends on the remedy being tested.

Before participating in a clinical trial, you must sign an informed consent form. However, you can choose to stop participating whenever you want after signing the form. The form lists such information as the:

  • Purpose of the study.
  • Expected study length.
  • Known potential risks.
  • Procedures to expect during the study.

Inconvenience is another potential con of clinical trial participation. The duration of the study may be long. During it, you may be restricted in the activities in which you can participate.

You may also have to record multiple aspects of your daily life, such as everything you eat. Additionally, you may need to report to researchers or to your physician for more medical appointments than you normally attend. Some appointments may require long-distance travel.

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