Compared to the medical services and technologies that were available 800 years ago, the medical industry has considerably developed and made major progress. One factor that helped push this progress along are clinical trials. These trials are a type of clinical research (besides observational studies).
Observational studies refer to a study where something is observed in a particular setting. Researchers are responsible for collecting data and volunteers to run this study. Afterward, they watch certain changes that happen during a specific period. Clinical trials, however, are completely different.
How Do Clinical Trials Work?
Clinical trials are a type of research project. These projects are done on individuals with the aim of gaining more information about any physical, mental, or medical issues. Scientists run this research to know if a new medical development will help patients or not. This could be new medical equipment like a pacemaker or new medicine. Throughout the process of a clinical trial run on patients, researchers discover all the good and bad aspects. Researchers also run clinical trials for additional purposes:
- Discovering methods for early illness identification
- Avoiding health issues
- Raising the standard of living for those who are suffering from a deadly condition
- Raising the standard of living for those who have a serious illness
- Recognizing caregivers or other helping organizations
Clinical trials are not for just anyone to perform, especially when it involves humans. Scientists usually run tests on animals and lab tests before they do anything on humans. If they decide that the clinical trial is safe and suitable for testing on humans, they will need to get approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before the trial is performed on a human being. Once the FDA provides the approval, clinical trials can start immediately.
How Many Phases are there in a Clinical Trial?
You can basically divide a clinical trial into four phases:
- First Phase: The phase I trial is a test treatment researchers do on a small group of people ranging from 20 up to 80 people. Scientists can learn more about the safety of whatever they are testing during this stage.
- Second Phase: Phase II, which is a continuation of the Phase I trial. The difference is, this phase involves more people. In fact, it usually has 100 to 300 more participants! This phase focuses on the effectiveness of whatever is being tested, while phase I focuses on the safety of what is being tested. This phase can last for years to discover the long-term effects of the tested items.
- Third Phase: Phase III gathers all available data about an item’s safety and effectiveness together. In this phase, scientists examine dosages, control groups, and other aspect. An average of a few hundred up to about 3,000 people participate in this phase. The FDA approves the tested item (medicine, equipment, etc.) if the results of each three phases are fine.
- Fourth Phase: The phase IV trial can only happen after receiving FDA approval. In this phase, researchers can track the tests in larger groups of people. It can support researchers’ efforts in studying an item’s effectiveness and safety on a bigger scale.
Reasons Why Someone Would Want to Participate in a Clinical Trial
Individuals can participate in a clinical trial for a number of different reasons. For example:
- A person needs additional medical assistance after trying conventional treatments without success
- Someone is searching for a treatment for a condition for which there is no known treatment
- A person wants first access to new medicine that is not yet available on the market
- Someone wants to assist in the advancement of medical technologies
To figure out the best reasons for you to do it, you must take into account your own condition. Imagine that you experience bad headaches but have never been able to discover a treatment. A specific clinical trial for the prevention of bad headaches could be very beneficial in this situation.
What Steps Do Scientists Take During a Clinical Trial?
The process for each clinical trial may vary depending on the trial. You can generally break down a clinical trial’s process into the following steps:
- Trained specialists will give you additional information about the trials as well as learn more about you while doing so
- If you meet qualifying criteria and choose to participate, you will be required to sign a consent form
- You will go through a screening process to see if you actually qualify for the trial
- You will take part in the trial if the screening procedure finds that you are fit
- As soon as you are given trial approval, you must make your first visit
- You will either be selected for a treatment group or a control group by the researchers
- You are required to make an effort to stick to the trial’s rules, and you can tell the researchers right away if you have any concerns, complaints, or questions
How Can You Access a Clinical Trial?
It is actually less difficult than you would imagine finding a clinical trial. You can easily access clinical trials in a variety of ways. You can see clinical trial advertisements on social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter. Additionally, you can access clinical trials by:
- Communicating with your doctor
- Internet searches
- Participating in a clinical trial registry
To Sum Up
Clinical trials, in summary, are when researchers carry out clinical research on human volunteers to discover more about physical, psychological, or medicinal treatment. Not just anyone can perform clinical trials on humans. Clinical trials often need to pass through four stages. The use of these trials is to:
- Discover methods for early illness identification
- Avoid health issues
- Raise the standard of living for those who are suffering from a deadly condition
- Raise the standard of living for those who have a serious illness
- Recognize caregivers or other helping organizations
Several factors could affect someone’s decision to take part in a clinical trial. You’re in luck if you wish to participate in a clinical trial. You can find some available options in a variety of ways. However, one of the simplest methods to do so is to look online.