Risks and Benefits of Clinical Trials

are clinical trials safe

Receiving a dire diagnosis for yourself or for a loved one will leave you feeling overwhelmed and helpless. This is especially the case when the condition is terminal. How do you fully assimilate what’s going on? Should you get a second opinion? Are there any better alternatives elsewhere?

How Do Clinical Trials Work?

There are different types of clinical trials, all aimed at different goals: prevention, diagnostic, and treatment. The purpose is to conduct research on the efficacy and the effect on the human body.

The trials are carefully and thoroughly designed to delineate their background, methodology, and objectives. This includes the type of patient who would be the best candidate for the trial, the number of participants, detailed information regarding treatment, and length of treatment.

The trials are designed and assessed by physicians, scientists, and data managers.

Are Clinical Trials Safe?

While clinical trials do involve close monitoring by healthcare providers, the fact that they are trials means that there are inherent risks.

Patients don’t go in blindly, however. Before agreeing to participate, they are provided with all of the details and logistics of the trial, including potential side effects. Patients are also allowed to ask as many questions as necessary before agreeing to participate or sign any paperwork. This is known as informed consent.

In addition, clinical trials do not take a one-size-fits-all approach. They include very specific eligibility criteria of patients who are most likely to respond well to treatment. Once the candidate persona is developed, the treatment plan is reviewed by a research team called the Institutional Review Board (IRB), composed of doctors, nurses, social workers,  and other healthcare professionals. The trial is only green-lighted when doctors believe there’s a real possibility of helping patients.

If a patient begins a clinical trial and later changes their mind about participating, they may withdraw from the trial, even if it hasn’t been completed.

Risks vs. Benefits of Clinical Trials

Although each individual clinical trial has its own list of benefits and risks, below are some that tend to be common among many.

Risks of Clinical Trials

  • Side effects (vary)
  • May result in additional trips to the hospital or doctors appointments
  • The trial may not work

Benefits of Clinical Trials

  • A new treatment that is currently unavailable on the market
  • Patients are very closely monitored
  • Many patients have had good responses to clinical trials
  • Improved symptoms and/or improved quality of life or life expectancy
  • Significant input from medical providers

Clinical Trial Costs

A patient who opts to undergo a clinical trial is only responsible for the regular costs of treatment. Any additional expenditures related to the trial’s research is paid by the sponsor of the trial.

If You or a Loved One are Considering a Clinical Trial, Let Us Help You.

At St. Hope, we serve many patients living with a myriad of medical conditions. We believe that treating people with compassion is as important as the medicine they receive. We foster a trusting patient/medical provider relationship to ensure that everyone who walks through our doors feels comfortable and receives the care they deserve.

We take same-day appointments, accept all insurance plans, and welcome walk-ins. Contact us online or call us at 713-778-1300.