Participating in research allows people to contribute to medical knowledge and offers the opportunity to receive cutting-edge care.
Researchers conduct clinical trials to test a new drug for treatment, relief of symptoms, or for prevention of disease.
The systematic process to assure that the drug is safe and effective usually involves three testing phases:
Drug trials often measure multiple outcomes. Even when the overall goal is to determine whether a drug leads to longer disease-free survival, a trial may measure other “early endpoints,” such as whether a tumor shrinks in response to a drug. Monitoring early endpoints helps researchers to design larger trials involving more patients.
Participants in trials involving drugs often question whether or not they will receive a placebo, an intervention whose appearance, administration and delivery schedule is the same as the medication, but lacks the drug’s active ingredient.
Trials may involve placebos in different ways:
For diseases where there is a well-established treatment, patients are often randomly assigned to one of two groups:
In studies involving diseases or conditions for which there is no known effective therapy, participants may be randomly assigned to the group that receives the drug being tested or to the group that receives the placebo.
Before a clinical trial begins, participants are advised when a placebo is involved, but they will not know whether they are included in the group that receives the placebo.