Clinical Trials

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is the next step after lab testing and animal studies. They are used to test a specific intervention [medical products (i.e., drugs or devices), procedures, or change to a participant’s behavior (i.e., diet) to determine its efficacy. Clinical trials are also used to compare a new intervention with ones that are already available. Some trials even compare two already available interventions to each other.

Why are clinical trials conducted?

The efficacy of a new product is not usually known, so investigators measure certain outcomes in the participants to determine the safety and efficacy of the product for treating a condition, syndrome, or disease.

Types of clinical trials

There are several types of clinical trials. Some of the most common types of trials are:

  • Diagnostic trials
    • Examine better tests/procedures for disease or condition diagnosis
  • Prevention trials
    • Explore ways to prevent a disease from occurring in people who have never had the disease or from returning in those that have had the disease
  • Quality of life trials
    • Identify and measure options to improve the comfort and quality of life for people with chronic illness
  • Screening trials
    • Test best ways to detect health conditions or diseases
  • Treatment trials
    • Test new treatments or treatment combinations or approaches to surgery, radiation therapy, or clinical management strategies
  • Behavioral trials
    • Testing of behavior change interventions
    • Behavior change is important in the prevention and treatment of many diseases, particularly diseases associated with unhealthy habits or activities (e.g., smoking)