There are potential medical, financial, and personal benefits associated with participating in clinical trials. A study participant may have access to a drug or device not yet available in the general population. The treatment may improve the condition being treated and possibly with fewer side-effects, although there is no guarantee of this.
Also, participation in studies usually results in closer observation of the study participants by the doctors and study staff. Often, diagnostic procedures are conducted in accordance with a study, which results in a better understanding of a person’s medical condition.
Additionally, there are usually multiple laboratory analyses and physical exams associated with the study, as well as expanded education opportunities.
Financial benefits of study participation may include no-cost medical care associated with the study, no-cost medication, and compensation for time and travel. The financial benefits of participating are provided to offset the extra time and travel costs associated with participating in a study. Personally, study participants may feel intrinsically rewarded by volunteering for research that may positively impact medicine, which may help large numbers of people.
There are also risks to participating in a clinical trial. Each trial is designed uniquely, but it is common that studies be placebo-controlled. This means that there is a possibly of receiving placebo, instead of active drug, during the study. Receiving placebo will likely result in no improvement in the condition being studied.
Additionally, there may be side effects associated with the study therapy. Although early studies must show that an investigational drug/device be safe for continued study, some side effects may not become apparent until larger scale studies are conducted, or even later.
Prospective study participants should carefully read the Informed Consent document prior to entering a study.