- Cancer Information
- Cancer treatment
- Clinical trials and research
- Common questions
- Who works on clinical trials?
Who works on clinical trials?
A team of people work on clinical trials, and some of their roles overlap. If you decide to join a clinical trial, you may have contact with all or some of the people listed below.
In most cases, your cancer specialist will continue to look after your overall cancer care while you are on the clinical trial.
- also known as a researcher – there are usually a number of investigators (researchers) involved in a clinical trial
- develops and plans research studies, and obtains, analyses and publishes the results
- may have a background in medicine, nursing, science, psychology, allied health, consumer advocacy or complementary therapies
- the principal investigator is responsible for conducting the trial at their hospital or university, ensuring patients are safe and the trial is properly run; is usually a doctor or senior academic with expertise in the field of research
- a co-investigator works in partnership with the principal investigator in helping run the trial
- the coordinating principal investigator oversees research that is taking place at more than one study at two or more hospitals
Nurse or research assistant
- may be called a clinical trials nurse, a clinical research nurse or a research assistant
- coordinates finding people for the trial (recruitment) by talking to potential participants, making sure they are eligible and explaining the purpose of the trial
- arranges appointments for tests, treatments or to see the specialist
- makes sure all necessary paperwork is completed once you have agreed to join a trial
- provides emotional support
- acts as a link between the patient and the researchers or the health care team
- may also be the main contact person for the trial
- larger clinical trials or hospitals have a dedicated clinical trials nurse, but smaller ones might not
- may be called a clinical research coordinator or clinical trials coordinator
- may be combined with the nursing role
- may have a science or nursing degree (or similar)
- ensures the trial meets ethical and legal requirements
- applies for grants and manages budgets
- reviews the detailed plan (protocol) for the trial and organises records
- may be a medical oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist or haematologist
- supervises your treatment, follow-up and overall care
- usually is also the principal investigator or the coordinating principal investigator
- a pharmacist stores and dispenses trial medicines, monitors their effect on patients and provides advice; may conduct laboratory research
- allied health practitioners and complementary therapists may give advice or treatment if the study is investigating non-medical treatments such as counselling, nutrition, massage, physiotherapy and acupuncture
A clinical trials nurse accompanied me at every stage of the process. She explained what was happening and answered any questions I had.Marg
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A/Prof Brett Hughes, Senior Staff Specialist, Medical Oncology, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and The Prince Charles Hospital, and Associate Professor, The University of Queensland, QLD; Christie Allan, Clinical Trials Lead, Cancer Council Victoria, VIC; Dawn Bedwell, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Joanne Benhamu, Senior Research Nurse, Team Lead, Lung, Colorectal and Palliative Care Trials, Parkville Cancer Clinical Trials Unit, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Louise Dillon, Consumer; Sabina Jelinek, Clinical Nurse Research, St John of God Murdoch Hospital, WA; Chloe Jennett, Program Coodinator, Cancer Research, Cancer Council NSW; Carmel McCarthy, Consumer; Alison Richards, Research Unit Manager, Medical Oncology Clinical Trials Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Prof Jane Ussher, Translational Health Research Institute (THRI), School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, NSW; Prof Janette Vardy, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre, and Professor of Cancer Medicine, The University of Sydney, NSW.
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