What is a clinical trial?
In clinical trials, people volunteer to test new treatments, interventions or tests. Some clinical trials assess how people respond to a new treatment and what side effects might occur, to determine if the new treatment is safe, if it works and if it is better than the currently available treatments. Clinical trials can compare existing interventions or look at new ways to use existing drugs and devices. Clinical trials may also assess diagnostic or screening tests to find new ways to detect diseases.
Why do we need clinical trials?
Clinical trials are needed for the development of new interventions or treatments that help people live longer and improve their quality of life by treating disease, reducing pain and disability. Many new interventions have resulted from clinical trials.
Why participate in a clinical trial?
Participation in a clinical trial is highly valued and contributes to improved healthcare both now and in the future. New interventions that improve quality of life and help people to live longer, with less pain and disability are only possible because of the willingness of people to participate in clinical trials. Some of the reasons people may choose to participate in clinical trials, include:
- Playing an active role in their care
- Gaining a better understanding of their disease or condition
- Gaining access to new treatments or tests that are not yet available to the wider population
- Facilitating closer follow up
- Helping other people by contributing to medical research
Both healthy participants and those diagnosed with a disease or condition are needed to help find new ways to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure disease and disability.
If more people are involved in clinical trials, the time it takes to make new interventions widely available is reduced.
Who can take part in a clinical trial?
People from the young to the elderly can potentially be involved in a clinical trial. Some trials involve healthy people and others trials require people with a certain disease or condition.
Participation in a clinical trial is voluntary, and participants are free to withdraw from a trial at any time without it affecting their care.
Before deciding to take part in a trial an information sheet is provided to potential participants that explains what is involved, including the aims, duration, procedures, risks, potential benefits and alternative treatments. It is important that this information is fully understood, and questions are encouraged.
Before a clinical trial can commence, it must be approved by a Human Research Ethics Committee. Ethics Committees are independent and consist of medical, scientific and legal experts, as well as members of the public.
We have a large number of clinical trials across the hospitals and services in Northern Sydney Local Health District in all therapeutic areas, including drug and device trials. Several examples of our trials groups are included below.