You can apply to clinical trials for money or groundbreaking treatment options, depending on your eligibility. Researchers need a diverse pool of volunteers, including healthy and sick participants. But you may not qualify (or want to) if you have child-bearing potential, underlying health complications, smoke tobacco or have a busy schedule.
If you consider joining a trial, your health or finances are likely your biggest concerns. You will need to ask yourself what will happen if you do or do not participate in the study. Review the following pros and cons to see if clinical trials may benefit you.
Pros of Clinical Trials
1. Your participation in unpaid or paid research studies can help others and improve treatment in the future.
2. Remote clinical trials remove the burden of travel.
3. You can receive money and compensation. Compensation for paid clinical trials depends on the study’s time length and the number of outpatient nights, inpatient visits, and follow-up phone calls. Remote monitoring clinical trials may pay less than studies requiring a lot of travel. Payment is reimbursement for your time and any risks.
4. You have access to a highly qualified professional team specializing in your medical condition. The treatment may be the compensation in some cases. For instance, the National Cancer Institute runs mesothelioma clinical trials but does not offer payment for trial participation. You may receive free cancer treatments instead of relying on health insurance or paying out of pocket.
5. You have first access to a potentially beneficial new drug or treatment. The experimental drug may work better than the existing standard treatment for your condition. If you are in a Phase 3 clinical trial, researchers have already discovered the most common side effects and tweaked the dosage appropriately.
6. You can learn more about the condition, available treatments and new drug developments. Study representatives may be able to give you more information, including alternative treatments, if you have a rare or life-threatening condition.
7. You may receive more attention, tests and scans for your condition. Regular checkups with a medical professional may already be part of your treatment plan, or you may struggle to afford suitable care.
Cons of Clinical Trials
1. Your participation takes effort. Trial participation can include testing, reporting how you feel or otherwise contributing information. Researchers may have tasks, paperwork, or require you to abstain from something, such as smoking, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, etc.
2. Clinical studies take time. Many studies require more than one day of participation. You may need to stay at the facility for weeks or return for weekly follow-up visits.
3. You may have out-of-pocket costs. Studies may reimburse you for travel or even childcare expenses, but you will first have to cover any fees. For some studies, your health insurance may cover the costs, including Medicare.
4. You may experience unpleasant side effects. Researchers are still learning about drugs’ side effects in Phase 1 clinical trials, so there is a risk of harmful reactions.
5. You may be in a placebo group or not receive a new treatment. In a randomized clinical trial, you do not have a choice of which treatment you will receive.
6. You may receive more attention, tests, and scans than you would as a healthy individual. You may find the additional appointments inconvenient or difficult even if you have a condition.