Clinical trials, whether government or industry sponsored, are important for the growth and progress of medical science and health in the United States. Millions of people volunteer their bodies in order to improve our understanding of medical conditions and treatments. Many do so because they simply hope to improve treatment options for others in the future, while others are hoping to benefit from a new experimental drug; whatever the reason, it’s important to understand your rights as a volunteer in a clinical trial.

Phhoto: Bill Branson

Phhoto: Bill Branson

Anyone who participates in a clinical trail must give his or her consent first. On one hand, when a volunteer gives their consent to be a part of a clinical trial, they agree to participate in the trial and to abide by the conditions that researchers require of them, be it eating habits or sleep patterns, or whatever. On the other hand, a volunteer’s consent also indicates that he or she is informed as to the purpose of the trial, any and all risks that are associated with participation in the trial, the general procedure of the trial, and so on.

There are many things to contemplate when deciding to be a part of a clinical trial or not. Anyone who is considering participation in a trial needs to make sure they understand and recognize all of the associated risks and benefits before giving their consent. If you do not understand any part of the process, do not hesitate to ask questions. Doctors and researchers are responsible to inform their volunteers and make sure they understand that information, but they cannot read minds. It your responsibility to ask questions or seek clarification for anything that you do not understand fully. Do not feel rushed to make a decision before you have had the appropriate amount of time to consider all the information that is presented to you.

You are free to make the decision to participate in a clinical trial, without any kind of pressure or coercion. Furthermore, you can stop participating in a trial at any time.

The more informed you are about the details of a clinical trial, the more prepared you’ll be to meaningfully participate in the trial. Having the right information can put your mind at ease regarding the decision to participate in a clinical trial.