Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. Clinical trials can study:

  • new drugs or new combinations of drugs
  • new ways of doing surgery
  • new medical devices
  • new ways to use existing treatments
  • new ways to change behaviors to improve health
  • new ways to improve the quality of life for people with acute or chronic illnesses

The goal of clinical trials is to determine if these treatment, prevention, and behavior approaches are safe and effective.

People take part in clinical trials for many reasons. Healthy volunteers say they take part to help others and to contribute to moving science forward. People with an illness or disease also take part to help others, but also to possibly receive the newest treatment and to have added (or extra) care and attention from the clinical trial staff.

Clinical trials offer hope for many people and a chance to help researchers find better treatments for others in the future.

Reproduced with permission from NIH Clinical Trials and You. NIH does not endorse or recommend any products, services, or information described or offered here by Healthline. Page last reviewed October 20, 2017.