When you hear the term “clinical trial” or “research study”, you may have questions about what exactly they entail compared to your standard treatment options. In a previous blog post, we talked about demystifying clinical trials and addressed some of the widely believed myths around participating in them. In this blog post, we will talk about the similarities and differences between standard treatment and participating in a clinical trial.
Standard treatment options, such as those you have likely discussed with your doctor, are treatments that have been widely studied and later implemented. For instance, your doctor may give you a treatment plan such as attending talk therapy or taking a certain medication depending on your unique needs. Standard treatments are typically put in place after assessing your condition and can often be tailored to what may work best for you.
While clinical trials have the same end goal in mind of helping future patients and some of the concepts are relatively the same, the process works a bit differently. Clinical trials require that you go through a pre-screening/screening process to determine your eligibility as all studies have certain inclusion and exclusion criteria that must be followed. If you are eligible for a study or trial, you are given in-depth informed consent. In some (not all) clinical trials, there is a component called a placebo, which means that not all participants will get the drug that is being studied. So, it differs from standard treatment in that with standard treatment, you know for sure that you are getting a treatment or intervention that has been proven effective; whereas, that is not always the case in all clinical trials.
So, why might someone choose to participate in a clinical trial as opposed to standard treatment?
The thought of possibly not getting the study treatment can deter some people from participating in a clinical trial, which is completely understandable. Others may choose to enroll in a clinical trial for a number of reasons. Perhaps they have been through rounds and rounds of standard treatment that just have not worked for them. They may seek an alternative option in search of a new treatment that may work or they may want to help advance future treatment options so that more treatments can be available for those who need them.
Combining standard treatment with clinical trial interventions may be possible depending on the specific treatment as well as the study protocol. Every trial has a different protocol that must be followed in addition to the criteria that study subjects must meet. Study staff and your medical care team can help determine whether or not a clinical trial is a good option for you and if you would need to discontinue your current treatment regimen.
Another common question is whether clinical trials are safe. All clinical trials have strict safety protocols that must be followed in order to protect participants. The study team is always there to answer any questions or concerns that might come up during the trial. For our studies, weekly to monthly visits are required to ensure your safety throughout the duration of the study and even a few weeks after the study ends. Your safety always is the number one priority.
If you are considering whether or not a clinical trial is right for you, talk to your doctor, or give us a call at 610-891-7200 and we’d be happy to talk with you in more details about our specific studies.