Is a clinical trial right for me?
Clinical trials give patients in our area access to the same cutting-edge treatments offered at the best-known medical research hospitals—and often much earlier than they are available to the general public.
If you're thinking about participating in a clinical trial, you've come to the right place. The frequently asked questions below can help you weigh the risks versus the benefits, and understand your rights and responsibilities as a clinical trial participant.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are a type of clinical research study in which people volunteer to test new medical treatments or new ways of using existing treatments.
The carefully designed studies collect data to:
- Find new ways to prevent, detect or manage diseases and medical conditions
- Determine the safety and effectiveness of new treatments
- Find the correct dosages to treat a medical problem
Clinical trials have shown promise in laboratory study but have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
What types of clinical trials are available at Gundersen?
On any day, Gundersen has about 125 clinical trials available for patients with serious medical conditions or life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson's disease.
Are clinical trials safe?
Before a clinical trial is conducted at Gundersen, our Research Committee, made up of healthcare and science professionals, carefully reviews the science of the study. If approved, the study is then reviewed by our Institutional Review Board (IRB), made up of healthcare professionals and community members. They ensure the safety and rights of volunteers are protected.
What are the benefits of participating in clinical trials?
- You may receive a medication or treatment not yet available to the general public that could improve your health.
- You will help researchers learn whether new medications are effective.
- You will help others by providing information that can lead to better treatments.
- You may be eligible for study-related visits, laboratory tests, procedures and/or experimental medication or treatment at no cost.
- You may receive money for your time and travel expenses.
What are the risks of participating in clinical trials?
You will be informed about all known risks and side effects throughout the study. You will also be updated on new information that may affect your decision to participate.
Will I get experimental treatment?
Volunteers are randomly assigned to receive the experimental treatment or be in the control group. Volunteers in the control group are either given the standard treatment or a placebo (plah-SEE-bow) or "sugar pill" instead of a drug. Although a medication or treatment might appear promising, it is not until it's tested on many patients under carefully controlled conditions, that we know whether it is better than other treatments.
How do I qualify for a clinical trial?
Each clinical trial has specific requirements that must be met to be eligible to participate. Due to medical conditions or other factors, you may or may not be able to participate in the study. (You do not have to be a Gundersen Health System patient to participate).
What is informed consent?
To participate in a clinical trial, you must give your informed consent. Informed consent means that you have been told about and understand:
- The purpose of the study
- Procedures and tests required
- Possible risks and benefits
- Your rights as a study participant
Before enrolling in a clinical trial, you will receive a detailed consent form that is specific to the study. You will need to read the consent form and talk to the study doctor and clinical research staff. If after having all your questions answered you decide to participate, you will be asked to give your informed consent by signing the consent form. Informed consent is an ongoing process throughout a clinical trial.
What are my rights and responsibilities as a volunteer in a clinical trial?
It is your right to:
- Stop participating in a study and to withdraw your consent at any time, and for any reason, if you so choose.
It is your responsibility to:
- Take medications and/or use devices as directed
- Keep appointments and complete paperwork
Whether you are thinking about participating in a clinical research study or, your support is vital to Gundersen Medical Foundation's research mission. Thank you for your consideration.
Take the next step
If you think you may qualify for a clinical trial, contact your healthcare provider or call (608) 775-7525.