A clinical trial’s goals or purpose is two-fold, to find new ways of preventing, detecting, and treating diseases, and to determine the safety and efficacy of each new treatment, either on its own or in comparison to a previously tested treatment (sometimes both). If you are eligible to participate in a clinical trial, it is important to understand what the potential benefits and risks are, as this will help you make an informed decision about your health.
What are the Benefits of Participating in a Clinical Trial
- You get access to a treatment approach not yet available. The new treatment for your condition or disease may not be available yet to the public, giving you priority access. The new treatment may be more effective than your current one, or it may offer fewer side effects as well.
- You get access to leading doctors, physicians, and researchers. The medical teams conducting clinical trials include leading doctors, physicians, and researchers in their fields of study. They will work with you closely, monitoring you throughout the trial for adverse side effects and other data points of interest relevant to the trial (dosages, placebo effects, health and behavioral changes).
- You may feel more in control of your own healthcare. By choosing to participate in a clinical trial, you are making an active choice to seek out newer, potentially better treatment options for yourself. This, in turn, may open you up to more treatment options in the future. It can also lead to a more positive outlook, a better quality of life, and potentially a better outcome.
- You will gain access to frequent medical check-ups. Clinical trials involve close monitoring, so you will have access to more frequent health check-ups as part of your treatment process.
- You are contributing to research that may save others in the future. Your participation today in a clinical trial, may help others get better treatment options for their health problems in the future. This very well may save countless lives.
- You may get better access to support groups and resources. By being in a clinical trial with others who have the same health conditions, illness, or diseases as you, you may feel more supported or gain access to new resources.
- Some clinical trials offer low-cost treatment. For individuals who have a hard time paying for current treatments or who may not be financially stable to seek out treatment, some clinical trials may offer a window of hope if they offer free or low-cost treatment. You may not have to pay for travel, expenses during the clinical phases, or the medical care required to monitor you. However, only some clinical trials offer this, so make sure you are aware of what you have to pay before agreeing to participate.
What are the Risks of Participating in a Clinical Trial
- There is a chance it will not work for you. Not every clinical trial is going to result in new and effective treatment methods, or treatment options that are more effective than current ones available. Even if the treatment method benefits others in the trial, that may not be the case for you.
- Unknown or worse side effects. The new treatment may have side effects that are worse than current available treatments, or have completely unknown side effects.
- Randomized and blinded clinical trials take away choice. If you are taking part in a randomized clinical trial, you will not have any choice over which treatment option you get. You may not get the treatment at all, and instead receive either a no-treatment placebo or standard care, if the clinical trial is running a control group. If the clinical trial is a “blind” trial, the doctors won’t know either.
- You may need to undergo a lot of travel and testing. You may need to undergo a lot of medical appointments, testing, and travel. Likewise, you may need to stay in the hospital, stay in the clinical trial facility, or visit the study site numerous times.
- You may be required to make lifestyle modifications for the duration of the trial, such as dietary and exercise changes.
- The collection of sensitive information such as genetics, could potentially cause harm either to yourself (unknown issues come to light) or your family.
- Insurance providers may not cover all clinical trial costs. Make sure to check with your medical insurance provider to see what type of costs are covered before agreeing to participate.
After going through a clinical trial, the new treatment may not even be approved. If it is, it may not be covered by insurance either.
Do You Get Paid for Clinical Trials?
While not all clinical trials provide financial payment, most do. This is on the basis that you are being compensated as a reward for taking on the above-noted risks. The amount you are paid is dependent on the phase of the trial, as earlier phases (I and II) have more side effects, and outcomes that are unknown, potentially severe, and least understood. Later phases are likely to still pay, but because they have better-understood data backing them, and they are of much larger size, they will pay much less. Factors that impact the compensation rate include:
- The phase of the study (risk involved),
- The length of the study (duration),
- The area of medicine/condition being studied,
- The number of tests/exams needed to be done,
- The number of in-person visits/phone visits/time required,
- The amount of involvement needed (symptom tracking, journaling).
For instance, if you are participating in an interview-only study that only takes a few hours to complete and no investigational treatment is needed, then you’ll be paid much less than if you were in a phase I vaccine clinical trial.
If the trial isn’t providing direct compensation to you, it may still reimburse travel costs or expenses needed for childcare. If the trial is an unpaid one, but you live with a condition that doesn’t have many treatment options or treatment options are expensive, it may still be worth your time to participate. When enrolling in a clinical trial, you will be asked to give informed consent, which is accompanied by documents that will outline all relevant information related to the trial, including potential compensation. If you are interested in signing up for a clinical trial, explore our clinical trials or contact us.