Questions to Ask When Participating in Clinical Studies

Questions to Ask When Participating in Clinical Studies
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  • 0:01 What Is a Clinical Study?
  • 0:50 What's the Purpose of…
  • 1:38 What's the Method Being Used?
  • 2:43 What Are the…
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Clinical studies are important for obtaining information to increase the health and well being of human beings. This lesson will discuss the questions that should be asked before participating in a clinical study.

What is a Clinical Study?

You've probably seen flyers around town or classified advertisements in the newspaper seeking participants for research. Would you ever consider being a part of a research experiment? Your answer would probably depend on the type of research being conducted, wouldn't it?

A clinical study is a research program designed to provide information about potential treatments, new medications or products, or even about human behavior. Clinical studies are used in many fields ranging from health care to the social sciences. Clinical studies usually involve tests and experiments on human beings. Countless people participate in clinical studies each year. Thus, it is important to understand the questions that must be asked before participating in a clinical study.

Let's take a look at what questions should be asked before participating in a clinical study.

What's the Purpose of this Study?

Before agreeing to participate in a clinical study, you should be very clear on what is being studied and why. For example, is the study designed to test the effectiveness of a new medication? Perhaps the researchers want to see how factory workers deal with a cold environment. While both of these scenarios are very different, they both count as clinical studies. Which one would you be more interested in participating in? You may be frightened to try out a new medication without knowing all of the potential risks, but you might be more willing to work in a cold environment for short periods of time, right? This is why it is important for people to ask what the purpose of the study is before becoming a participant in the research.

What Is the Method Being Used?

Knowing what is being researched is not enough though, is it? It is also important to know how the research will be carried out. What types of things will be done to participants? Where will the study take place? How often do participants need to come in? What are the potential risks for participants in the clinical study? What are potential benefits for participants? All of these questions reflect the method or plan for the clinical study.

Because the point of a clinical study is to find out all they can about a given product or phenomena, the researchers may not necessarily have all of the answers to these questions but must still show that they are qualified to conduct the research. This is where an Institutional Review Board (or IRB) comes in. The IRB is a separate group that reviews the proposed method for the research to determine if the plan is safe and effective. Therefore, it is always a good idea to check and make sure that the researchers have received formal approval for the clinical study prior to participating.

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