When deciding if you want to take part in a trial, it is important to realise that the new treatment might work for you, but it might not. Depending upon the trial, you might be randomised to a control arm to receive the standard treatment. When there are two arms of a trial, as the patient you cannot simply choose which treatment you would prefer.
Apart from access to the new treatment, there are other benefits to taking part in a trial
- You will be seen by doctors and nurses who are experts in treating your condition, in hospitals that have the best facilities.
- The health of people who take part in clinical trials is usually monitored more closely than the health of patients who do not take part in trials.
- You are making a valuable contribution to medical research.
- You are taking control of the treatment of your illness.
There are several risks to consider before joining a clinical trial
The new treatment might cause unpredictable or serious side effects. In some cases, these can be permanent. This is particularly relevant if you want to join a trial that is the first to test a drug in humans (a phase 1 trial). Despite the hopes of the doctors running the trial, the new treatment might not work as well as the treatments that are already available, or it might not work at all for you.
There may be financial costs to consider too, like travel and accommodation costs, or the cost of you or a caregiver taking time off work to go to the trial clinic. You will not be paid money to take part in a clinical trial, and likewise while the trial should not place undue costs on you, it is very rare for the trial to reimburse any costs incurred. If you are worried about taking part in a clinical trial, you should talk to your doctor.