Clinical Trials 101

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial (also called clinical research) is a research study in human volunteers to answer specific health questions. Carefully conducted clinical trials are the fastest and safest way to find treatments that work in people and ways to improve health. Interventional trials determine whether experimental treatments or new ways of using known therapies are safe and effective under controlled environments. Observational trials address health issues in large groups of people or populations in natural settings. For more information, go to


What is a protocol?


What is informed consent?


Why participate in a clinical trial?

Clinical trials give patients an opportunity to play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research. There are also risks to clinical trials. There may be unpleasant, serious or even life-threatening side effects to treatment, the treatment may not be effective for the participant, and the protocol may require more of their time and attention than would a non-protocol treatment, including trips to the study site, more treatments, hospital stays or complex dosage requirements.

Before enrolling in a clinical trial it is important to understand the potential risks and benefits, and to discuss your options with your physicians.

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