Help others: clinical trials

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a health-related research study that is conducted according to a pre-defined written plan.

Why are clinical trials done?

Clinical trials may be done:

  • to see how well a new treatment works and what side effects it may cause
  • to look for better ways to prevent a disease
  • to find better ways to detect or diagnose a medical condition
  • to find ways to make people with long-term medical conditions more comfortable

Why would I want to participate in a clinical trial?

Everyone has their own personal reasons for participating in a clinical trial, such as:

  • gaining early access to a new treatment
  • receiving expert medical care at top-notch health care facilities
  • helping to advance medical research for your condition (this also helps others with the condition)

What is involved in participating in a trial?

If you qualify, you will first meet with a doctor or research coordinator to learn more about the trial. Then you will be asked to read an informed consent document that explains the risks and benefits of participating in the trial, and to sign the document if you agree to participate. Be sure you fully understand the risks and benefits before you sign.

During the trial, you will usually need to make regular visits to a health care facility to receive treatment and/or medical tests (the exact details will depend on the trial). You can withdraw from the trial at any time.

What should I think about before deciding to participate?

Before choosing to participate in a clinical trial, consider:

  • What are the possible risks of the study treatment?
  • What types of tests, treatments, and procedures will I need to have?
  • Will I need to spend time in the hospital?
  • What expenses could be involved (e.g., travel, missed work), and will I be reimbursed?
  • How long will the trial last?
  • Will I receive any long-term follow-up as part of the trial?
  • Will I have access to the results of the trial?

You may also wish to speak to your family and your doctor before making the decision to participate in a clinical trial.

How can I find out more about clinical trials?

To learn more about clinical trials in Canada, speak to your doctor or your local health care facility, or visit:

  • Clinical Trials
  • Canada Trials

Health Canada plays an important role in regulating clinical trials in Canada – to learn more, visit Health Canada's website,

If you find a study that interests you, it's a good idea to run it by your doctor before signing up.

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