What Do I Need to Know?

Clinical research involves having people like you volunteer to participate in carefully conducted investigations that ultimately uncover better ways to treat, prevent, diagnose, and understand human disease. This type of research requires the participation of both healthy people who are free of disease as well as people who have diagnosed medical conditions.

If you are invited to participate in a clinical trial, you are free to decline participation or ask any questions or bring up any issues concerning the trial at any time.

Potential Benefits

Well-designed and well-executed clinical trials provide the best approach for participants to:

  • Play an active role in their healthcare.
  • Gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available.
  • Receive regular and careful medical attention from a research team that includes doctors and other health professionals.
  • Help others by contributing to medical research.


Potential Risks

Risks to participating in clinical trials include the following:

  • There may be unpleasant, serious, or even life-threatening side effects to experimental treatment.
  • The study may require more time and attention than standard treatment would, including visits to the study site, more blood tests, more treatments, hospital stays, or complex dosage requirements.


Tips for Asking Your
Doctor about Trials

  • Consider taking a family member or friend along for support and for help in asking questions or recording answers.
  • Plan ahead what to askā€”but don't hesitate to ask any new questions you think of while you're there.
  • Write down your questions in advance to make sure you remember to ask them all.
  • Write down the answers so that you can review them whenever you want.
  • Ask about bringing a tape recorder to make a taped record of what's said (even if you write down answers).

You may find more information about clinical research participation at Duke by visiting the Duke Health Institutional Review Board's web portal for research participants.

Information on this page is courtesy of www.nih.gov/health-information/nih-clinical-research-trials-you/basics.