Clinical trials are research studies designed to test, observe, and evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a new medical treatment or intervention. This intervention can have many forms; in some cases the intervention is a new medication designed to treat or prevent the occurrence of a disease, it can be a new surgical procedure or technique, or a behavior modification intervention of lifestyle changes.
After researchers design a study and conduct preliminary tests, they invite volunteers to take part in the clinical trial part of the study to test the intervention. Volunteers can be found in many places; some people might hear about a research study from their doctor, particularly if they have a condition or disease that is being studied. Some bigger research studies are even broadcasted on the radio or television to recruit participants.
The most important thing you should know about clinical trials is that they are always completely voluntary. The decision to participate or not is entirely up to you, and if you decide not to participate or to withdraw from a study, you are still entitled to the same healthcare you were receiving before.