A clinical trial is a scientific research study in which patients help doctors find ways to improve standard treatments and a patients' quality of life. Carefully conducted research studies are the fastest and safest way to find new treatments and improve the health of all patients. Simply stated: Today's gold standard of care was yesterday's research study.
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Sanford Health conducts the following types of studies:
- Treatment studies to improve the standard of care
- Prevention studies to look for better ways to prevent disease
- Diagnostic and screening studies to find better ways to detect diseases
- Quality of life studies to explore ways to improve comfort and quality of life for patients
Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements may participate in a research study. The eligibility requirements indicate the study's purpose and characteristics of the people who should participate. Eligibility requirements may include age, gender, health and risk factors. Patients involved in clinical research are volunteers and may change their mind or leave the study at any time. Patients are informed of all the risks and benefits of taking part in the study as well as details regarding the treatments and tests to be provided.
Choosing to participate in a research study is an important personal decision. People who participate in clinical trials:
- Have access to promising new treatments that may not be available to the public
- Play an active role in their own health care
- Assist researchers and physicians in finding a cure
- Help find new treatments to improve the quality of life for everyone with a specific disease
- Often receive more attention than routine care allows
A placebo is used in clinical research when researchers seek to prove the addition of a new treatment regimen to the standard of care is more effective than standard of care only. One way they do this is to provide all participants:
- The standard of care plus the new treatment, or
- The standard of care plus a placebo.
The purpose is to see if the standard of care plus the new treatment is more effective than the standard of care plus placebo.
When it comes to treatment, everyone is always offered the best practice standard of care. For example, if you have cancer and seek treatment at Sanford Health, you will receive the best available and most advanced cancer therapy in our region. This does not change when patients volunteer to participate in clinical research studies. You do not have to fear receiving a "sugar pill" (or placebo) instead of the best practice standard of care.
Either way, as a patient you receive the best practice standard of care. And should the clinical study contain a placebo, we are required by law to inform you prior to your volunteering.