Clinicaltrials Why Participate

People participate in clinical trials and medical studies for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you want to help others with a similar medical condition. Maybe you’ve exhausted established treatments. Or perhaps you’ve chosen to take an active role in your own healthcare. You should be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of clinical trials before you opt to participate.

The Search for a New Treatment

For many people, the possibility of helping to bring about a medical breakthrough (which could improve their own health and that of thousands of others) is reason enough to take part in a medical trial. This is a particularly appealing draw if the condition at hand affects you, or it’s a condition that’s close to home.

The Importance of Participating

According to the National Cancer Institute, only about 3 percent of cancer patients opt to participate in clinical trials. If that number were doubled, a test for a new cancer treatment or therapy could be completed in one year. At present, it takes three to four years to complete a medical trial, so it’s easy to see how increased participation positively affects medical studies.

The Healthcare Advantages of Participating in a Trial

The World Medical Association (WMA) has set out strict rules for the treatment of participants of medical studies in “The Declaration of Helsinki,” a document released by the WMA in 2003 that sets the ethical standards for human experimentation.

Among other things, the WMA requires that participants in clinical trials receive the best possible healthcare. This means that, for the duration of their participation in a trial, participants receive no-cost healthcare from leading experts for medical conditions related to the study, even if they’re receiving a placebo. Any study-related medications required during the trials are provided free of charge, and some trials even pay for your time.

Medical trials give patients access to new treatments before they’re widely available. If you’ve exhausted all established treatments, taking part in these medical studies allows you to try different options, and you may get paid for the clinical trials you take. You’re also taking an active role in your own healthcare, rather than waiting for the clinical trials to be completed and the drug or other treatment to become available to the public.

The Disadvantages of Participating in Clinical Trials

You should be aware of some of the common disadvantages of medical trials. Depending on the type of clinical trial at hand, you may be required to fill out lengthy questionnaires or stay at a hospital for periods of time. The medical treatment may have unforeseen side effects, or even have no effect on your condition. Travel may be required in some cases. In general, though, most people feel the many advantages to participating in clinical trials outweigh the disadvantages.


National Institutes of Health staff. (2008). Glossary of clinical trials terms. Retrieved January 15, 2019, from the Web site:

South African National Clinical Trial Register. (2005). apossible advantages and disadvantages of participating in a clinical trial. Retrievd January 10, 2010, from the South Africa Department of Health Web site: Possibleadvantagesdisadvantages/tabid/189/Default.aspx.