Clinical trials are an essential part of medical research, as they are used to evaluate the effectiveness of new drugs and to assist in the prevention or diagnosis of certain diseases. Individuals who are affected by a condition or disease may be offered to take part in a clinical trial for their own benefit, but even medical trial volunteers who are not affected by any health condition can help make a difference in the lives of others. Thanks to the work of medical researchers and scientists, today there are treatments available for illnesses and conditions that were previously thought of as incurable.
Safety is one of the main concerns that are often raised around medical trials. Although there is an element of risk involved in volunteering for a medical trial, nowadays trials are regulated by strict guidelines. Every clinical trial is regulated by legal protocols that have been implemented with the sole purpose of protecting the safety of every volunteer.
In order to ensure the tenacity of the trial results it is essential that volunteers meet certain criteria before being accepted into a trial. There may be specific requirements relating to age and gender for certain trials, other trials are less specific about who can volunteer and accept healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55. All prospective volunteers are required to attend a screening visit, during which the medical history and the current health state of volunteers are examined in detail. Blood tests and other laboratory tests are often required during the screening visit in order to make sure that volunteers are healthy.
Once they pass the screening visit, volunteers are given an informed consent form, which contains a detailed explanation of the clinical trial in terms of purpose, duration, anticipated benefits, and potential side effects, as well as a description of the volunteers’ legal rights during the trial. Volunteers can only take part in a clinical trial once they have signed the consent form, and they may quit the study at anytime if they wish to do so.
To avoid potential complications or drug interactions, volunteers are only allowed to participate in one trial at the time. Once a trial is concluded, volunteers are also required to wait for at least three months before signing up for a new study.
Participating in a clinical trial does not represent a strain in the volunteers’ budget. In fact, travel expenses are covered up to £100, and volunteers are paid a sum for their participation, which is proportional to the length of the study and often ranges between £500 and £3,000. However, economic incentives are only a small benefit of clinical trials, as volunteers can be sure that they are contributing to improving the lives of many others around the world.