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Clinical Trials

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a research study using human volunteers to answer specific health questions. Well-conducted clinical trials provide the fastest and safest way to find treatments that work in people and ways to improve health. Clinical trials are sponsored or funded by governments as well as by a variety of other organizations or individuals such as physicians, medical institutions, foundations, voluntary groups, and pharmaceutical companies.

Why consider participating in a clinical trial?

By participating in clinical trials, you can gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, play a more active role in your own health care, and help others by contributing to the advancement of medical knowledge and research. If you are a member of a minority racial or ethnic group, your participation is strongly encouraged, as minorities are often under-represented in clinical trials.

What other factors need to be considered?

Choosing to participate in a clinical trial is an important and personal decision. Before you consider enrolling in a clinical trial, you should know as much as possible about the trial and carefully consider your interest in participating and all your options, including following the conventional care, in treating your disease. In addition, talk to your health provider, a physician, family members, or friends about deciding to join a trial. Feel free to contact the trial you have in mind and ask questions about the trial, such as the purpose of the trial, why researchers believe the experimental treatment being tested may be effective, what kinds of tests and experimental treatment are involved, how the possible risks, side effects, and benefits in the study compare with your current treatment, how the trial might affect your daily life, and any other questions that you may have.

Where can I find clinical trials and/or learn more information?

Ask your doctor first and then take advantage of the huge number of recruiting sites and information resources about public and private clinical trials that are available on the internet.

The following web sites may offer trials in Illinois or nearby states: - the largest to date, coordinated by the National Library of Medicine; offers up-to-date information for locating federally and privately supported clinical trials for a wide range of diseases and conditions; searchable by disease, geographical location, sponsor, and recruitment status, etc... or - coordinated by the National Cancer Institute, contains information on cancer clinical trials; searchable by type of cancer, geographical location, and type of trials, etc.. - coordinated by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, contains information on how to find clinical trials conducted by biopharmaceutical companies. - site owned by Current Controlled Trials Ltd., part of the Current Science Group of companies; offers a search by an International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) and across multiple registries including the U.K and U.S. - site owned by the Thomson Corporation, a Boston-based publishing and information services company; offers information about ongoing and finished industry and government-sponsored clinical trials in the U.S. - supported by the National Library of Medicine; contains comprehensive educational and referral links to web sites of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on clinical trials; offers an interactive tutorial and is available in both English and Spanish.

Updated January 22, 2021