Each year, researchers recruit many volunteers into such trials to evaluate new medical treatments, drugs, or devices. Ultimately, clinical trials seek better ways to treat different diseases and conditions. Not only might the trial participants benefit, but so could patients in the future.
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But you (or your doctor) have to know how to find those trials.
How to Find a Clinical Trial
A good starting place is www.clinicaltrials.gov. This web site, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, offers information on more than 125,000 clinical trials in 180 countries. Some of those are recruiting patients; other trials are completed or terminated.
Click on the link, "Search for Clinical Trials," on the home page.
Enter your search terms -- for example, a disease or intervention and a location: "heart attack" AND "aspirin" AND "California." Separate your multiple search terms with a capitalized "AND."
Need more help? Click on the "Background Information" link on the homepage. Then go to "Online Training," which features animated tutorials on how to perform searches: You'll learn how to tell open trials that are recruiting new participants (marked in green) from those that are closed to new volunteers (marked in red). You can also hide studies that are not recruiting new volunteers.
If you want to see all studies listed for your condition, see "Study Topics" on the right side of the home page. You'll find four links that allow you to list all studies by condition, drug intervention, location, or sponsor.
Studies that are recruiting will name a sponsor (for example, "University of Michigan" or "National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute"). Further down the page, you'll also find a contact person, whom you can reach by phone or email to ask about participating.