Benefits and risks of clinical trials

Here are some questions you might like to ask before deciding whether to take part in a trial. Your doctor or nurse will probably answer most of these when they tell you about the trial. Most of these will be covered in the written information you are given about the trial.

General questions

  • What is the trial called?
  • What is the aim of the trial and how will it help people?
  • Why have I been invited to take part?
  • What are the treatment choices in the trial?
  • What are the benefits of the trial for me?
  • What are the possible risks?
  • How long is the trial expected to last?
  • Can I withdraw from the trial at any time?
  • The answer should always be yes.
  • What happens if I leave the trial early?
  • How long will it be before the results of the trial are known?
  • Will I be informed of the results?

Remember that it may be some time before the results are available. It’s not unusual for trials to take many years before the results are available. While doctors may see quite soon whether people respond to a new treatment, it will take much longer to see how long the response will last.

Practical questions

You may also want to ask some practical questions to make sure you’re happy with any demands that the trial will make on you:

  • How much of my time will be needed?
  • Will I need to take time off work?
  • Will I need extra help from family and friends?
  • Will my fares to and from the trial centre be paid?
  • If so, how can I claim the costs back?
  • What extra tests or appointments will I have?
  • Will I have to collect the drug from the hospital?
  • Will the drug be sent to me by post or will I get it through my GP?
  • Will I have to fill in questionnaires or keep a diary? Sometimes questionnaires are simple tick-box lists, or you may be asked to record your answers online.

Back to Can and should I take part?

Taking part in a trial

Clinical trials are confidential and you won’t be entered into one without giving your consent.