How to get the most out of your clinical trial search

You’ve decided that you want to participate in a clinical trial for your condition. Great! Digital health companies like Antidote have tools to help you find your clinical trial matches quickly. But just because the matching tools exist, you still want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your clinical trial search. Here’s what to look for to maximize your clinical trial search.

Looking at the right sites

In your search, it’s best to look at the right sites: both physical trial locations and websites. 

To make the most of your search, it’s key to make sure the trials you’re keen on participating in are at sites that are convenient for you. If you live in New York City and are looking to participate in a trial that only has sites in Los Angeles, it’s best to consider the distance as a factor, especially if multiple, frequent visits are crucial to the trial, or if your condition makes travel difficult. Choosing the right site is critical to the successful completion of the trial.

Choosing the right physical location can be easily guided by choosing the right website for your search. Matching tools like Antidote’s filter trials by condition, inclusion/exclusion criteria, and, importantly, location. You’ll know immediately where the trial’s sites are located and can make your decisions on whether or not to participate based on that information. 

Searching for the right kind of trial

Knowing what kind of clinical trial you want to participate in will help you get the most out of your search. There are two main types of clinical trials: interventional studies and observational studies.

Interventional studies are clinical trials testing whether a specific intervention (such as a drug, device, or behavioral change) affects health-related outcomes. Different groups of people are assigned at random to receive and not receive the intervention in a process called randomization. Typically the group that does not receive the intervention — also known as the control arm — receives either the current standard of care or a placebo (a fake version of the intervention), depending on the condition. Interventional trials are also typically blinded, meaning that the volunteer is not aware if they are in the control group or receiving the intervention, or double-blinded, meaning that both the researcher and the volunteer are not aware.

Observational studies, on the other hand, are ones in which participants are put in groups based on their characteristics, and an intervention is tested in each of these groups. The difference is that the groups are assigned based on volunteer characteristics, rather than at random. Both types of studies follow a protocol, a detailed plan for the study written by the trial sponsor and approved by the FDA. A patient registry is a type of observational study.

There are many types of clinical research depending on the investigator’s area of study. It’s important to consider what you are most comfortable with.

Another factor for consideration should be the clinical trial phase you’re most interested in participating in. Phase 1 trials test whether a treatment is safe for people to use. In phase 2 trials, researchers investigate whether a treatment is both safe and effective. Phase 3 trials typically enroll several hundred to several thousand participants, and continue to test potential treatments for both safety and effectiveness, including watching for treatment side effects. Carefully considering what phase you’re interested in can help narrow down your clinical trial selection.

Carefully examining the trial requirements

Participating in a clinical trial can help researchers potentially find treatments or interventions for future patients with your condition. However, it’s pivotal that you carefully examine what the clinical trial requires of you against your own comfort levels. 

For example, if a clinical trial looking at new treatments for anxiety requires you to get 5 MRIs, but MRIs heighten your anxiety, then maybe that trial is not for you. Having a clear understanding of your personal boundaries when it comes to medical procedures will help you maximize your search. You’ll know immediately which trials to rule out if you are not comfortable with some of the procedures or changes to your treatment regimens that are required.

During the informed consent process, sites will ensure that you know exactly what a clinical trial will involve before decide to enroll. Patients can't join a trial before having the trial thoroughly explained. You’ll have the ability to ask any questions before you sign a form. And, you are also welcome to leave a trial at any time for whatever reason.

The decision to participate in a clinical trial is personal, and with the considerations above, you should be equipped to find the right trial for you.