Understanding clinical trials is essential for taking a well-informed decision, whether you choose to participate or not. ECRAN has answered the most frequently asked questions about medical research for you; please consult consult the glossary for further explanations of technical terms.
Important: Before reading the FAQs, please have a look below for few clarifications on words and concepts
- Drugs, treatments, therapies or interventions? Researchers conduct clinical trials for developing new drugs, comparing effectiveness and risks of new and existing treatments/therapies or testing any other kind of interventions - from diagnostic or surgical procedures to lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. In the FAQs below you will always find the word “treatment” to make things easier and more immediatly understandable.
- The process we have described is more typical of new drug development, but many aspects also apply to clinical trials for other types of interventions with some differences when discussing doses, placebo, etc… – which may not be pertinent – also keeping in mind that Phase I to IV are not used in medical device and many other clinical trials.
- We have not included questions like “What is a placebo, what is randomization?” (since these are definined in the glossaries)
- Blinded/masked clinical trials: nowadays the term “masked “ is preferred to “blinded” when describing a clinical trial in which participants (and often researchers) are not told who is taking wich at the treatments (or a placebo), compared for reducing influence on measure results. There is more about this concept in the FAQs, just keep reading!