Frequently asked questions
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are research studies in which patients volunteer to participate. LHSI uses clinical trials to conduct research that represents the highest scientific standards for the purpose of expanding knowledge to provide new treatments and improve patient quality of life.
Clinical trials are part of a long, diligent process, which may involve many years of research. At the outset, physicians study new treatment options in a lab. This is often followed by studying the treatment in animals. If a new treatment exhibits promise, physicians then test the treatment in humans. This is typically done in three to four steps – or phases. Your doctor may offer you a clinical trial as a treatment option.
What is a placebo and how are they used in clinical trials?
Placebos, often referred to as sugar pills, are exact copies of a study medication with the exception that they contain no medication. Placebos assist in determining whether the studied medication is successful by comparing patients that receive medication versus patients receiving the placebo. Not all studies use placebos. The ratio of placebo versus actual medication varies from trial to trial, but generally 70% of study patients receive actual medication and 30% receive a placebo. The consent form identifies the actual chances of receiving a placebo for a particular study.
Why participate in clinical trials?
Participants in clinical trials play a more active role in their own healthcare, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available to the general public, and help others by contributing to important medical research.
Is there a charge associated with the services I receive in a clinical trial?
No – in fact, time and travel will be compensated for the trial in which a participant is enrolled.
Who can participate in a clinical trial?
All clinical trials have guidelines regarding participants. Criteria are based on such factors as age, gender, type and stage of a disease, previous treatment history, and other medical conditions. Prior to joining a clinical trial, a participant must qualify for the study. Some research studies seek participants with illnesses or conditions to be studied in the clinical trial, while others require healthy participants. It is important to note that criteria are not used to reject individuals personally. Instead, the criteria are used to identify appropriate participants and maintain their safety. The criteria help ensure that researchers will be able to answer the questions they plan to study.
What are the benefits and risks of participating in clinical trials?
Clinical trials that are well-designed and well-executed are the best approach for eligible participants to:
- Play an active role in their health care
- Save medical costs by participating in trials
- Gain access to new research treatments before they are available to the general public
- Obtain expert medical care at leading health care facilities during the trial
- Help others by contributing to medical research
There are risks in clinical trials, which may include:
- The experimental treatment may not be effective for each participant
- The protocol may require more time and attention than would a non-protocol treatment, including trips to the study site, additional treatments, hospital stays or complex dosage requirements
What if the study medication makes me feel bad?
As with taking any medication, the patient must decide whether the benefit outweighs any possible side effects. In any study, the patient’s primary care physician, if they are consulted, will work in conjunction with the study doctor. Together, they will monitor the patient’s overall health and do their utmost to ensure maximum benefits of any clinical trial.
How is my safety protected?
The ethical and legal codes governing medical practice also apply to clinical trials. In addition, all clinical research is federally regulated with built in safeguards to protect the participants. The trial follows a carefully controlled protocol, which is a study plan detailing the research that will be involved. Study physicians monitor patients throughout the trial to ensure that the patients are not being exposed to a medication that is potentially harmful. As a clinical trial progresses, researchers report the results of the trial at scientific meetings, to medical journals, and to various government agencies. Individual participant names will remain anonymous and not be shared in these reports.
May I leave the trial once it begins?
Yes – a participant may leave a clinical trial at any time. When leaving a trial early, the participant should inform the research team of the decision not to complete the trial, and share the reason(s) for withdrawing from the study prematurely.
How do I learn about the studies offered by LHSI?
To learn about current studies offered by LHSI, patients may contact us in a variety of ways.