How Would My Treatment Be Different if I Participated in a Clinical Trial?
You may receive more examinations and tests than are usually given for your particular condition. The purpose of these tests is to follow your progress and collect study data. Of course, tests can carry certain benefits and risks or discomforts of their own. Although they can be inconvenient, these tests ensure close observation.
Depending on the type of clinical trial, you may be asked to stop or change the medication(s) you are currently taking. You may also be asked to change your diet or any activities that could affect the outcome of the trial.
Some clinical trials are double-blind, placebo-controlled. This means that the clinical trial participants may receive the real drug or an inactive substance (sugar pill) that looks exactly like the drug (called a placebo). Neither the participant nor the researchers will know which drug they are receiving. "Blinding" is a safety net intended to help the researchers separate the real effects of a treatment from the "placebo effect" -- positive changes people often experience merely by being treated at all, and not as a result of any particular treatment.
Clinical trial participants are willing volunteers. Even though participants may be asked by their doctors to take part in a clinical trial, it is up to the patient to make the final decision.