Putting clinical trial results into perspective

If you've found a study that shows a statistically significant effect for a new treatment, what does this mean for you? Should you use the new treatment? What will it do for you, and what are the risks? Here are a few questions you might ask yourself or discuss with your health professional:

  • Do the results apply to me? Whether or not the study results apply to you depends on a number of factors, including whether the study participants were similar to you in terms of age, gender, other medical conditions, other medications taken, and severity of MS. The more similar the study participants are to you, the more likely it is that the results will apply to you. To judge this for yourself, look at the criteria that people had to meet in order to be part of the study. Is there any reason why you would not have been eligible for the study? If not, chances are good that the results will apply to you.
  • What difference would the treatment effect actually make in my life? For example:
    • How long did the benefits last in the study, and would this amount of time be meaningful to me?
    • What side effects and other risks were caused by the study medication?
    • How frequent were the side effects?
    • Would I be willing and/or able to take these risks or suffer these side effects?

Talking to your doctor can help apply the study results to your own situation and put the risks and benefits into perspective. You may want to ask the following questions:

  • What do you think of this study? Is it well designed? Could the results apply to me?
  • Are there any other studies about this medication? Are the results similar or different?
  • What benefits could I gain from this treatment?
  • What side effects or other risks could this treatment cause?
  • Would you recommend this treatment for me? Why or why not?
  • What are my other treatment options at this time?
  • Are any new treatment options becoming available soon?

It's important to speak regularly to your doctor about how your treatment is working for you, and whether any new study results exist that may affect your treatment.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Understanding-Clinical-Trials