Taking part in a clinical trial

Your doctor or nurse may suggest you take part in a clinical trial. Doctors run clinical trials to test new or modified treatments and ways of diagnosing disease to see if they are better than current methods. People are recruited to test the new treatment (e.g. a drug, medical device, surgical method or test) to see whether it works and whether any side effects occur.

You may want to join a clinical trial so that you can have treatments that are not available outside of the study. All trials have guidelines on who can participate and there may not always be a trial suitable for your specific situation. If you find a trial you’re interested in joining, ask your doctor if you meet the eligibility criteria.


Joining a clinical trial

It is completely voluntary to join a clinical trial. You shouldn’t feel pressured to take part or rushed into making any decisions that may affect your health or treatment. Take the time you need to decide whether to join – if you are unsure, you can ask for a second opinion from another specialist or talk to your GP.

Before joining a trial, you need to give informed consent. This means you will be given written information about the key facts of the trial so that you can decide whether to participate. You will be asked to confirm in writing (usually by signing a consent form) that you have read and understood the purpose, duration, required procedures, risks and possible outcomes of the research, and agree to take part in the trial. You will be asked to give consent again if the study changes or new information becomes available.

You have rights while participating in a clinical trial, including the right to withdraw at any time without giving a reason. If you do decide to withdraw from a trial, you will not be punished, and you will receive the standard treatment that is currently the best option for you.

See Clinical trials and research for more information, including how to get involved in a trial, and some practical issues to consider when deciding whether to take part.

Visit Australian Clinical Trials for more information about clinical trials. To search for current clinical trials, visit Australian Cancer Trials, ANZCTR or ClinTrial Refer.

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    Understanding Clinical Trials and Research

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This information was last reviewed in June 2019
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