A clinical trial is the best way we have
of finding out which treatment works
for a particular condition.
It's the most fair test, if you
of a treatment.
In a clinical trial, we can compare
one treatment against another
in the most fair way possible,
and then find out
which one works the best.
Anybody can take part
in a clinical trial.
It does depend, though,
on whether somebody is already
running a clinical trial
on the treatment you might have,
and whether you fit
their recruitment categories.
People are building huge databases
that collect all the activity
in the clinical trials community
all around the world,
to produce a searchable database
so that people can look for trials.
So there are clear advantages
to participating in a clinical trial.
Sometimes if it's a trial of a new
treatment that isn't widely available,
you may have access to a treatment
which you wouldn't otherwise
have been able to get.
But also it's worth being clear,
that there are some disadvantages
of participating in a clinical trial
and most of those revolve
And that cuts both ways.
So for example if somebody is
a clinical trial,
they may want to know a lot more
about your health,
so they'll have to do
many more blood tests.
Or maybe you'll
have to come to the clinic
and be examined or checked up on
more often than you might have been.
You could regard that as an
and a disadvantage, or as an advantage.
One of the fears people have
about clinical trials
is that maybe they'll be given some
and very elaborate experimental drug.
Firstly, that's very unusual.
Secondly, before you start the trial,
people will explain to you
very carefully and clearly
which treatments you may be getting.
One worry people can have
about participating in a clinical trial
is that they might be given a treatment
which subsequently turns out not to
have been the best of the two options.
The problem is, that at the time
you're running a trial,
the time when you're choosing
which treatment is best,
you don't know
which is the best treatment.
And that's quite common in medicine.
What happens in a clinical trial is,
you're still being given one of two
treatments chosen at random,
as you might be if your doctor was
treating you outside a clinical trial,
but without any clear evidence.
But at least in a clinical trial
we're developing new understanding
of which treatments work best.
In a clinical trial, people give you
an enormous amount of information.
But at the beginning, when you are
considering participating in the trial,
there are a few questions
I'd be interested in asking.
Firstly I'd want to know the point
of this trial.
What's the uncertainty
that you're trying to resolve?
Secondly, I'd want to know
what we already know about
the two treatments I might be getting.
Thirdly, and this is very important,
will I be told the results of the
when it's finished?
And lastly, I'd want to know
will the results of this trial
definitely be published
and put into the public domain?
I would always participate
in a clinical trial if I was invited,
I'd feel I have nothing to lose
if I don't know which of the two
treatments available to me is the best.
Secondly, I might benefit.
I might get a better treatment.
But lastly, I'd feel I was
to the greater sum of our knowledge,
helping us to understand
for everybody in the future
which treatment is the best.
The reality is, the only reason
why we're effective as doctors
at treating any disease
is because people have already
participated in clinical trials.
They are really the only way that
we know if a treatment works or not.
So people who participate
in those trials
make an enormous contribution
not just to the knowledge of doctors
but more importantly, an enormous
contribution to everybody's health.