For most people, they have never thought of participating in a clinical study or trial. Both are vitally important for the advancement of medicine. Without people participating and discussing their medical problems, treatments and medicine will not be created. Our understanding and treatment of mental health disorders have grown by leaps and bounds recently. The people who made such advancements possible could never do it without the help of ordinary people, such as yourself.
If you have a mental health disorder, you may consider participating in a trial or study. In a way, you not only help yourself, but you help the people that will come after you. However, as noble as it is, it is not a decision to take lightly. There is a lot someone needs to understand about clinical studies and trials before blindly signing up for one.
The Difference Between a Clinical Study and Clinical Trial
Clinical trials and studies are sometimes used interchangeably. After all, there are quite a few similarities. In both, voluntary participants help researchers understand medical issues that exist in our population. Most of the time, researchers will ask for a wide range of participants, who can either be healthy or sick. This is to be sure that as many variables are covered as possible, as every person is different.
However, both clinical studies and trials have very important differences.
Clinical studies are also known as “observational studies.” This means that the participants are observed, and only that. Participants may be asked to fill out a questionnaire or keep a daily journal. Sometimes previous medical tests are studied. Participants may even be interviewed. New medication or medical techniques are never used during a clinical study.
The purpose of a study is to observe a group of people and see if any patterns arise. For example, a doctor may observe a group of school students to see what events during school hours may increase the rates of depression among students. By observing, the researcher can then gather enough data to form a hypothesis that can be tested further.
Clinical Trials are when interventional techniques are tested on a group of participants. Anything from new therapy methods to new types of medication may be tested during a clinical trial. This is to see if these new methods and treatments are safe and effective before being released to the general public. Clinical trials take place in hospitals, where the participants can be tested in a safe environment.
The length of both depends on the study or trial being conducted, but some can last for a few short weeks to several years.
Where Do You Find an Open Study or Trial?
When researchers are looking for participants for a study or trial, they will put out a request for volunteers. Some places, like the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), offer resources to find trials and studies near you. Sometimes local colleges with medical and psychology programs will make a post on their website looking for volunteers. Most doctors and therapists will be aware of upcoming studies and trials and will inform you if asked about them. There are also search engines such as clinicaltrials.gov that will help someone find ways to participate.
When looking on the internet, it’s important to look for URLs with .gov or .edu in the website address. This means that these websites are directly run or accredited by the U.S government. A legitimate call for participants will never ask you to pay to participate. If you are worried about the legitimacy of a clinical study or trial, you may contact the medical facility where it is due to take place to verify it. When a call for participants does not list a credited hospital or medical facility as where it is going to take place, it may not be legitimate.
What Can You Expect When Participating in a Clinical Study or Trial?
Firstly, if you are interested in participating in a clinical study or trial, you must be evaluated first. When a researcher is conducting a study or trial, they may be looking for specific traits. Sometimes they are looking for a broad range of participants. Most often, this is to determine if the trial will be safe for you to participate in. If you are not selected to participate in a trial or study, don’t feel bad. There may be other opportunities in the future.
Should you be selected to participate, you will be informed of what your rights are as a participant. The researchers will go over with you what the study or trial will expect from you. If it is to be a trial, you may be asked to travel to or stay for some time at a hospital. This is so that the participants have help available at all times should they need it. All risks and possible problems will be discussed with the participant before the study or trial begins. If consent is given, you will be able to participate.
Consent and rights are important, so if a participant no longer wants to participate, they can choose to leave at any time. It does not cost money to participate in a trial or study, nor will you be penalized if you want to leave. Your rights as a person come first, regardless of how deep in the clinical study or trial you are in.
Some clinical studies and trials will offer compensation for participation. Most will reimburse travel costs if you need to travel to the specific hospital the trial or study will take place in. This will be discussed before you agree to participate.
Remember, not everyone is suited to participate in trials or studies. Never feel pressured to participate if you don’t want to. There are lots of people who choose to volunteer for studies and trials, and most aren’t even selected. Whatever you decide to do, remember that it’s your decision alone.
Those that struggle with a mental health disorder know how mental health care has improved in the past few decades. Most of the progress isn’t only due to talented researchers but also to those that participate in the studies and trials. Here at Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we understand the importance of advancing the understanding and treatment of mental health. We use the latest techniques in the field to help you and those you love achieve long-lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is seeking treatment for or need information about a mental health disorder, call (949) 647-4090. We are waiting and standing by to help you.