What to expect during a clinical trial

If you’ve ever considered signing up to be part of a clinical trial or had your doctor invite you to one, you’ve probably got a lot of questions about what you can expect. Here we look at what could take place, before, during and after a clinical trial or study.


Doctors or researchers involved in the trial will want to be sure that you have received all the information you require in order to provide your informed consent. Ask lots of questions and make sure you’re comfortable with what the trial is for, how it will impact you and any possible risks. Only after being given as much information as you need will you be able to provide informed consent to participating in the trial.

You might then be assigned to a particular control group which don’t know whether they are being given the new treatment, an existing treatment or a placebo. This is so the researchers can compare results to see if the new treatment acts any differently. Sometimes you will know what group you are in but other ‘blind’ trials, you will not be told which treatment you are receiving. This is done so there can be no influences on how you feel or how you explain your symprtoms. Some trials are even ‘double blind’, meaning the doctors treating you don’t know what treatment you’ve received either until the team decipher the results.

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You’ll receive regular tests once the trial has started. Doctors and nurses will be on the lookout for any side effects, so you’ll be expected to answer a lot of questions about how you feel both mentally and physically. You might have to keep a diary or fill in questionnaires. This all takes time, so you will either be visiting a clinic or hospital frequently or some trials will isolate you for a couple of weeks in a special clinic. For more information about what Clinical Trial Volunteers can expect, visit clinical trial volunteers required at trials4us.co.uk

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The interesting thing about participating in a trial is that you get to see the results if you want to. The results will also be published, regardless of whether the treatment was deemed successful or not. Many trials offer payment for your contribution and you should no longer need to be seen by any medical professional, as long as you are fit and healthy.

Unfortunately, for those who experience improvements in a medical condition during treatment on a trial, they may have to wait a while before the same treatment is available on the NHS, if ever. It might be possible, in some cases, to buy the treatment privately but only if the drug has been approved for a licence.