For the Public
The Research of Today is the Treatment of Tomorrow
More knowledge is required in all areas of healthcare in order to gain a clearer understanding of disease and how it is managed. We need to conduct clinical research to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of treatments which in turn will lead to improved prevention, earlier and better diagnosis as well as more effective standards of treatment.
What is a Clinical Trial?
All the time, scientists (including doctors and other health professionals) are developing new treatments or tests for all types of diseases and conditions.
Clinical trials test potential treatments to see if they should be approved for wider use in the general population. Any new potential treatment must be extensively and objectively tested to check that it works, is safe and doesn't have unacceptable side effects.
Most often the treatment is a drug, but it could be a medical device, a surgical or physical procedure, a therapy or an intervention such as health promotion.
Before treatments can be tested in humans, they will have already undergone extensive investigation in the laboratory and testing on animals. If the results from these studies are positive, the next step is to seek approval to begin trials in humans.
The researchers conducting the trial must draw up a plan or protocol which will include information such as who and how many will take part in the trial, what question does the trial aim to answer, what treatments will be compared and how the results will be collected.
The protocol then undergoes an independent scientific review and must also be approved by an ethics committee before the trial can go ahead. These checks are to ensure that the trial design is accurate and that the research will respect the rights, dignity, safety and well being of the participants.