for Veterans and the Public
How do clinical trials work?
Clinical trials follow a set of rules called a protocol. The protocol says who can participate, how long the study is, and which tests need to be done.
Clinical trials are managed by doctors and are usually run by nurses or other health care professionals. The clinical trial staff will follow your progress closely and can help tell your regular doctor what is happening with your treatment.
Trials are also checked by an institutional review board (IRB). This is a group of people who reviews the clinical trial regularly to protect your rights, safety, and well-being.
When you are in a clinical trial, you may need to see the doctor more often and sometimes stay overnight in the hospital. This is because they want to check the effects of the medicine carefully. Because clinical trials are research, they will often test the real drug against a placebo (or sugar pill). Usually you will not know if you are taking the medicine or the placebo until the clinical trial is over.