When it comes to the world of clinical trials, especially for volunteers generously giving their time to a research study, having the proper information is very important. Various myths or misconceptions that have cropped up over the years in this realm are particularly harmful for this reason, as they may lead people astray when it comes to the right information about the trial they're participating in, the rights they have as a volunteer and much more.
At Advanced Research Institute, we're proud to not only provide a huge range of clinical studies to the medical world, from cancer trials like our Utah colorectal cancer screening study to conditions like diabetes, Celiac disease, heartburn and numerous others -- but also to ensure that all our prospective volunteers have the proper information before they sign up. This information may pertain to their individual study being considered, or to the world of clinical trials as a whole. Here are some of the most common and unfortunate myths we've heard about clinical studies, plus the correct information in each of these areas.
Whether through movies and popular culture or some other source, some people have developed a mental image of clinical trials where participants are treated as nothing more than helpless guinea pigs being prodded by scientists in white coats. Of course, this couldn't be further from the truth.
In fact, there are incredibly strict guidelines when it comes to clinical trials, especially when they are dealing with human subjects. These guidelines are in place because of the fact that each volunteer is putting a lot at risk when entering into a trial - namely, their health and even their lives. All volunteers must be in generally good health before signing up for anything, and all volunteers have the right to pull out of a trial at any point in time. Not only that, but they have access to an independent safety board who carefully monitors everything from the safety of participants to the accuracy and validity of results being analyzed through each trial. And on top of all this, there are rules about rigorous screening and testing processes that must be carried out before researchers can try out an experimental or investigational drug on any participant.
In addition, volunteers for clinical trial will all go through an informed consent process. More on this in just a bit.
While it's true that there is a low level of risk associated with clinical trials, especially when they are dealing with new drug therapies or alternative treatments, it's certainly not dangerous for volunteers on an individual level. There are strict guidelines in place to ensure this doesn't happen.
But on another note, there is also the idea that clinical studies are more dangerous than medical treatment - which is false. While it's true that there can be some discomfort and inconvenience associated with a clinical trial, it's certainly very different from the possible side effects of enrolling in medical treatment for an illness.
Informed consent within a clinical trial refers to the process whereby participants are given the chance to ask questions and understand everything they will be going through - including all possible side effects and other risks. This is crucial for making sure that a participant has given their full understanding and agreement with taking part in a trial.
For some reason, there's a misconception in some circles that informed consent is nothing but a meaningless piece of paper. This isn't true at all -- informed consent is a binding legal document, and the reason it exists is to protect both clinical trial participants and researchers. If a volunteer feels that they haven't been properly informed as to all of the risks associated with a study, they can pull out at any time - and this would likely cause problems for everyone involved, including those who are conducting or overseeing the trial. But if trial organizers did not take the proper steps in informing a participant of these risks during the informed consent period, they would be at fault here, and would be held as such by any court or governing body.
This is one myth that's not only untrue, it's virtually the exact opposite of the truth. In reality, volunteers for clinical trials almost never pay any sort of fee whatsoever to take part in these studies. The costs, which are very minimal anyway, are always paid by the researchers themselves - not the volunteers.
And in limited cases where small patient care costs may be placed on the volunteer, health insurance will almost always cover these costs. Virtually none of our trial participants has ever had to pay any reasonable sum of money to participate in one of our trials, and neither will you.
Finally, while participation in clinical trials is partially about helping the broader medical community learn more about certain conditions, there's a major misconception that there are no benefits to participants themselves. But this also isn't true -- you get incredibly close monitoring and care during a clinical trial, and many participants even get the chance to be part of the very first group to try out a new drug or treatment.
In addition, some clinical trials offer compensation for participants -- not in cash, but in small gifts and other items. Between this and the increased level of care you get for a condition you may have, many people actually experience great personal benefit from being involved in a trial.
For more on debunking common myths surrounding clinical research, or to learn about any of our research studies in Utah, speak to the staff at Advanced Research Institute today.