Benefits of clinical trial participation
The purpose of clinical trials is to collect data about new ways to prevent, detect, or treat certain diseases. As such, clinical trials need to find participants (volunteers) who are meeting many different criteria on an ongoing basis. Contrary to popular belief, people without health conditions can participate in clinical trials also. People participate in clinical trials for a number of reasons: healthy volunteers say they participate to help others and to contribute to medical research in general. Participants with an illness or disease also participate to help others, but also to potentially receive the newest investigational treatment for their condition.
There are many misconceptions regarding clinical trial participation, including providing informed consent during clinical trials. In practice, it is a very straightforward process, where participants get the opportunity to learn key facts about a clinical trial before deciding whether to participate. The process of providing information to participants continues throughout the study. To help you decide whether to take part, members of the research team explain the study. Common myths are that you may be rushed into consenting, and once you have given your consent and signed the form, you are “legally bound” to take part in the study. That is not the case. You will have ample time to review the Informed Consent, including an opportunity to take it home to discuss it with friends and family. Also, as a participant, you can withdraw at any time - you are not legally or contractually bound to continue participation in the study.
The more people get involved, the better. Clinical trials have often been criticized for lacking in both numbers and diversity of patients - but you can change that by participating. To find out if a particular investigational treatment works effectively across the population, trials need people of all ages, genders, races and social backgrounds. Many people are put off by the idea of registering their interest in clinical trial participation before they are in possession of all the facts, as they believe they won’t meet the eligibility criteria, but for the most part, this is not the case.
Above all, people who run clinical trials are qualified medical professionals and will not leave you feeling in the dark and uninformed about your treatment. Again, it’s a complete myth that participants are treated like “guinea pigs” or that this is the first trial run, as many of the drugs tested have been studied for years prior.
Of course, the only way to find out if clinical trial participation is for you is to give it a go. Some sensible steps to take before deciding whether to participate is to research the study itself. Read objective scholarly articles if you can, and avoid forums which could spread misconceptions or falsehoods. Weigh up your options and if you are eligible and can dedicate your time. You never know what impact you can have on the future of medical research.