Clinical trials are necessary to advance medical knowledge and improve patient care. Nevertheless, several common myths about clinical trials continue to circulate. But exactly how many of them are true or even science-based? We’ll debunk the myths so you can better understand what they encompass and what to expect when participating in a trial.

Myth 1: Clinical Trials Are Only for Desperate Patients

Fact: Not true! Many believe clinical trials are only a last-ditch effort for patients who’ve tried everything else. But in reality, they span a wide range of studies, from preventative measures to cutting-edge therapies. Participants come from all walks of medical life, including those seeking early access to innovative treatments and patients eager to contribute to medical progress.

Myth 2: Clinical Trials Are Unsafe

Fact: Absolutely not! When it comes to clinical trials, safety takes the spotlight. Stringent ethical guidelines and regulations are firmly in place, acting as a shield to safeguard participants from any harm. But that’s just the beginning; before the trial begins, researchers meticulously examine and put the potential treatment through rigorous tests for both safety and effectiveness. To participate in a clinical trial, researchers take several steps to ensure a patient is fully aware of the procedure, known as the informed consent process. Patients receive a comprehensive overview during this non-negotiable step and can ask questions before signing the participation form. Additionally, independent review boards oversee a trial’s progress to monitor participant well-being and maintain ethical standards.

Myth 3: Clinical Trials Only Benefit Pharmaceutical Companies

Fact: No. While pharmaceutical companies foot the bill for many clinical trials, the results benefit a larger population. A clinical trial contributes to scientific knowledge by assisting researchers in understanding diseases and developing more effective treatments. Participants can also gain early access to cutting-edge therapies that may not be available through standard treatments.

Myth 4: Placebos Are Unethical and Always Used

Fact: Wrong! Although placebos are used in some trials, ethical guidelines ensure they’re used carefully. Patients are often assigned randomly to either the investigational treatment or the control group receiving the standard treatment or placebo. This approach helps researchers determine the actual effects of the new treatment. However, participants are always informed beforehand if a trial involves a placebo, emphasizing safety.

Clinical Trial
The placebo effect is an essential concept in a clinical trial.

Myth 5: Clinical Trials Are Only for Seriously Ill Individuals

Fact: Not so! While some trials explore treatments for terminally ill patients who have exhausted all other options, others want healthy participants, while most look for those in-between. A clinical trial covers a spectrum of conditions, from mild to severe. Some focus on prevention or early detection, particularly for diseases like cancer. Participating in these trials doesn’t necessarily mean being critically or terminally ill; it simply means getting people from all stages of a disease to understand its progression better.

Myth 6: Only Sick People Should Participate

Fact: No. Without participants, there’s no way to test and approve new medications to help others live longer, healthier lives. Healthy people are favored for clinical trials, especially in preventive or vaccine studies. These trials help researchers understand how a treatment works in different populations and if it has any adverse effects. Healthy participants are the backbone of medical breakthroughs and shaping public health policies.

Myth 7: Clinical Trials Take Forever

Fact: Not quite! Nowadays, the clock’s ticking faster in clinical trials. While some can be lengthy, advances in research processes have streamlined the timeline considerably. Thanks to regulatory agencies, some trials ensure a quicker approval process for groundbreaking treatments. However, the duration often depends on factors such as the study topic and number of participants needed. 

Better treatment options can be discovered during cancer clinical trials.

Myth 8: Only Medical Experts Can Understand Clinical Trials

Fact: Worried about not understanding the medical jargon? Don’t be! A clinical trial’s information is designed to be accessible to the general public. Informed consent documents are straightforward and written in plain language so participants can understand. Researchers and medical professionals are always available to answer questions and guide the process.

Myth 9: You Will Be Treated Like a Guinea Pig

Fact: The constant poking and prodding can be enough to scare many away, but it won’t happen! Most clinical trial participants report they were fully informed of the risks and benefits and treated with respect and dignity. Many participants felt they received extra attention and had more people observing them since they had a study nurse assigned to them. The safety guidelines for patients are in place for a reason!

Getting the real scoop on clinical trials dispels many misconceptions that can deter potential participants or lead to misunderstandings. Trials are the foundation for crafting cutting-edge treatments, informed treatment decisions, and improving patient care. By shedding light on the medical truths, we hope a more accurate perception of clinical trials encourages others to participate. Clinical trials play a lead role in shaping the future of healthcare.

Contact SFCRI to Hear About Our Clinical Trials

Want to enroll in a clinical trial? If you’re keen on learning more about becoming a part of a clinical trial, please contact the South Florida Clinical Research Institute directly or visit our Current Studies page. Play an active role in shaping a healthier tomorrow for future generations. All clinical trial participants receive the utmost care and treatment during a trial’s duration. Our experienced medical professionals and research team are ready to get you started.