Doctors and scientists are always looking for better ways to care for and treat patients. To do this, they carry out research studies to test new medicines and treatments. These studies are called clinical trials.
A clinical trial involves testing new treatments, or old treatments used in a new way, to find out if they are safe, effective, and possibly better than the current (standard) treatment. Such trials are the final step before new products and therapies are made available to those who need them.
Many people all over the world have taken part in clinical trials that have resulted in improvement in treatment and care. If you’re interested in getting involved, Kidney Health Australia can help connect you.
If a clinical trial becomes available, it may be an interesting opportunity. However, clinical trials are not right for everyone. There are advantages and disadvantages to participating that you need to consider.
If you’re interested in participating in a clinical trial, you want to make sure you fully understand the reasons for the trial and what it means for you.
It’s important to know that you (and your doctor) may not know whether you receive the ‘new treatment’ or the standard treatment. This is to prevent bias in the research.
Before making a decision, you may want to consider these questions:
The decision to take part in a clinical trial is entirely yours to make.
All clinical trials are required to be reviewed and approved by an Ethics Committee. If you participate in a clinical trial, you will receive contact details of the Committee that approved your trial, and you are welcome to contact them if you feel uncomfortable at any stage.
You will need to sign a consent form to participate in a trial. Informed consent is one of the most important parts of the trial process – make sure you are given as much information as possible. It is your right to ask as many questions as you want until you feel sure you understand what the trial involves. You can also take the information sheet home and discuss it with a family member or friend before you agree to take part.
By signing the consent form, you are confirming that you have been given the form and that you understand this information. You should not sign the form unless you understand what you are being asked to do.
If you are wondering whether participating in a clinical trial will affect your health insurance, the answer is: usually no. But you should contact your health insurer prior to starting a clinical trial so it’s aware of your intentions.
Rest assured that your personal and health information collected as part of the trial (as with any other health data) is kept completely confidential.