A clinical study involves research using human volunteers (also called participants) with the intent of adding to medical knowledge. There are two main types of clinical studies: clinical trials (also called interventional studies) and observational studies. ClinicalTrials.gov includes both interventional and observational studies.
In a clinical trial, participants receive specific interventions according to the research plan or protocol created by the investigators.
In an observational study, investigators assess health outcomes in groups of participants according to a research plan or protocol.
Every clinical study is led by a principal investigator, who is often a medical doctor. Clinical studies also have a research team that may include doctors, nurses, social workers, and other health care professionals.
Clinical studies can take place in many locations, including hospitals, universities, doctors' offices, and community clinics. The location depends on who is conducting the study.
The length of a clinical study varies, depending on what is being studied. Participants are told how long the study will last before they enroll.
In general, clinical studies are designed to add to medical knowledge related to the treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of diseases or conditions.
A clinical study is conducted according to a research plan known as the protocol. The protocol is designed to answer specific research questions and safeguard the health of participants.
Clinical studies have standards outlining who can participate. These standards are called eligibility criteria and are listed in the protocol. Some research studies seek participants who have the illnesses or conditions that will be studied, white other studies look for healthy participants. Some studies are limited to a predetermined group of people who are asked by researchers to enroll.
Informed consent is a process used by researchers to provide potential and enrolled participants with information about a clinical study. This information helps people decide whether they want to enroll or continue to participate in the study.
Typically, participants continue to see their usual health care providers while enrolled in a clinical study. While most clinical studies provide participants with medical products or interventions related to the illness or condition being studied, they do not provide extended or complete health care.
Participating in a clinical study contributes to medical knowledge. The results of these studies can make a difference in the care of future patients by providing information about the benefits and risks of therapeutic, preventative, or diagnostic products or interventions.
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