NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

Clinical trials play a vital role in developing better ways to prevent and treat diseases. Most researchers and health care professionals already understand the process, but members of the general public may be unfamiliar with the important role that clinical trials play in advancing health care. NIH Clinical Research Trials and You is a new Web site created by the National Institutes of Health that provides easy-to-understand information about clinical research and clinical trials, and the benefits of participation.

This authoritative resource explains what clinical trials are and how they function. Also addressed are the different types and phases of clinical trials, informed consent, and risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial. Videos provide stories from patient and researcher perspectives. Another useful feature is a “Glossary of Common Terms” with clear definitions for terminology related to clinical trials.

For someone considering a clinical trial, there is a list of questions to ask researchers. These deal with the study itself (purpose, safety, length); possible risks and benefits (short and long term); participation and care (procedures used, location of medical care); personal issues; and cost (what health insurance covers, personal responsibility).

A section designed for health care providers gives pointers on how to talk to a patient about a clinical trial and how to refer them to one. Information specific to children and senior adults is also given in the Educational Resources section.

Anyone interested in participating in a trial should consult the section, Finding a Clinical Trial. has information on “federally and privately supported trials in the United States and around the world.” There is also a ResearchMatch registry that will match potential participants with researchers.

~ Linda Hartman