Welcome back to our series of blogs honoring Clinical Trials Day 2023, celebrated on May 20th!
Clinical trials are essential studies conducted to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and effectiveness of medical interventions, including drugs, treatments, devices, and diagnostic procedures. These trials follow a structured and rigorous process to generate reliable evidence for medical advancements, and to ensure patient safety.
Here are some key concepts and definitions that every prospective participant in a clinical trial should be familiar with before they join their first research study:
Every clinical trial follows an important outline, referred to formally as the Study Protocol. It serves as a blueprint or roadmap for researchers and study personnel to ensure consistency, standardization, and ethical conduct throughout the trial. Study protocols are typically reviewed and approved by institutional review boards (IRBs) or ethics committees before the trial can begin.
Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria
Inclusion and exclusion criteria are specific eligibility requirements that potential participants must meet or avoid in order to be included or excluded from participating in a clinical trial. These criteria help ensure that the study population is appropriate for the research objectives, safety considerations, and the specific characteristics of the intervention being tested.
Factors such as age, prior treatments or interventions, medical conditions or comorbidities and allergies are just some examples of criteria that are assessed during the screening process to determine a potential volunteer’s eligibility for a trial.
The consent process is a fundamental ethical principle and legal requirement in medical research, aimed at protecting participants’ autonomy, rights, and well-being. Volunteers are provided with all the relevant information about a clinical trial and its associated risks and benefits, allowing them to make a cognizant decision about whether to participate.
Participants must have the legal and mental capacity to provide informed consent. However, specific situations, such as involving minors, individuals with cognitive impairments, or individuals who are critically ill, may require additional considerations. In such cases, informed consent may involve obtaining permission from a legally authorized representative or surrogate decision-maker.
Patient Compensation and Reimbursement
Compensation and reimbursement are important considerations given to trial participants to ensure fairness, encourage participation, and minimize financial burdens for volunteers giving their time and energy at study related visits.
For every study, the specific compensation and reimbursement arrangements may vary depending on the nature of the trial, the study population, local regulations, and institutional policies. Whilst there may be differences in these factors, study sponsors and research teams always look to follow key ethical tenants when establishing the compensation structure of a study, including:
- Fairness – Accounting for time, effort, and potential risks involved in trial participation, the amount of compensation offered should be determined based on the prevailing standards in the field and local regulations.
- Transparency – The details of the compensation and reimbursement, including the amount, timing, and method of payment, should be clearly explained during the informed consent process.
- Regulatory compliance – Reimbursement practices in clinical trials must adhere to local regulations, ethical guidelines, and institutional policies. Ethical regulators may have specific requirements regarding compensation and reimbursement, and researchers must comply with these guidelines.
Make sure to check back on May 18th for our fourth article, The Globalization of Clinical Trials!