10 Questions to Ask Before Signing Up for a Clinical Trial

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Clinical trials are a brilliant way for certain patients to get new treatments that aren’t available to the public yet, all while helping researchers make advancements that will help other people get the treatment they need. For some patients, particularly terminal patients or those for whom the traditional treatments are not effective, these unproven drugs could save or extend their lives.

However, clinical trials aren’t for everyone. Most trials are only looking for a very specific subset of the population, and there can be significant risks to participants, depending on the type of drug. There are lots of questions you’ll probably want to ask when you’re considering taking part in a clinical trial, and you probably haven’t even thought about some of them yet.

Here are some questions you should ask before you sign up for a clinical trial.

10. What are the risks?

Every clinical trial has risks, but they differ based on what type of treatment is being administered and to whom. Be sure to ask for a list of potential side effects and other types of risks so you can weigh them properly before deciding to take part in the trial.

9. How am I being protected?

As a clinical trial participant, you have a right to be fully informed before giving your consent to be a participant in the trial. All clinical trials are required to undergo review by scientific review boards prior to getting started, and an institutional review board (and possibly a data and safety monitoring board) will continue to ensure that the researchers are following protocol throughout the process. But feel free to ask for the specifics regarding these and other safety and privacy features of your clinical trial.

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Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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