It’s valid to have reservations about joining a clinical trial, particularly if you have never participated in one. Common fears can range from expenses you might incur to potential side effects of a new drug, test, or procedure. There will always be risks associated with participating in a clinical trial, especially if they are in an early phase. This said, trials are run by medical professionals — researchers, doctors, and nurses — all committed to your safety and care.
Informed consent ensures you are aware of all aspects of the research study before you decide to take part. The research team will provide you with an informed consent document, including the study’s purpose, length, what will be expected of you, and a list of any tests or procedures you may undergo.
Additionally, existing HIPAA laws protect your privacy. Even still, it’s understandable that you might have some lingering doubts. Here are some common concerns about joining a clinical trial and advice on how to address them:
I’m concerned about the time commitment. Your participation in a clinical trial is voluntary. You can choose to leave at any time for any reason. Perhaps you have completed treatment, the treatment is having adverse side effects, or you simply decided, for personal reasons, to leave the study. All are valid reasons. Keep in mind when making your decision that if you bring your concerns and wishes to the study team, they may be able to make accommodations that work for your continued participation. If not, you’re under no obligation to continue.
I’m concerned about the cost of transportation. Many clinical trials provide transportation stipends to patients, so ask if that is included in the study. Before joining, consider the length of your travel time and if it will affect your ability to consistently take part.
I’m concerned about other associated costs. Costs associated with visits or treatments specific to the clinical trial are typically paid for by the company or agency running the study, but for peace of mind, be sure to confirm if any of the treatments or tests will be of cost to you or your insurance carrier.
I’m concerned about any side effects. Before you enroll in the trial, doctors and nurses attending to your care will explain any possible side effects that could occur. During the trial, you will be monitored closely. It will also be your responsibility to let the clinical trial team know if you are experiencing any changes to your health or well-being, or what’s known as an adverse event.
I’m concerned about the interaction with my current medications. Your study doctor or nurse will carefully review all the medications you are taking to ensure there are no risks for serious interactions, and will review any adjustments that might need to be made. It is important to talk with your physician about whether or not the clinical trial is right for you, especially if you are taking other medications that might interact with those administered during the study.
The benefits of joining a clinical trial include assisting with important medical research and potentially being able to receive a new treatment before it is available to the public. While initial hesitation and concern are valid, communicating with your physician and the research team to determine your suitability and eligibility beforehand is the best approach.
This blog is intended to be informational in nature. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.