What Exactly is Clinical Research?

June 02 , 2020

Many practices around the country use clinical research just like we do, and it is imperative for medical development. So, we thought we’d give a brief rundown on what clinical research is and why it is key to future health and prosperity.

Similarly to a simple science experiment, a clinical trial is a phased medical experiment where a number of observations are made under controlled conditions. Its defining feature is that it involves testing medical treatments on human beings. An investigator is responsible for administering treatments, evaluating outcomes, and conducting the necessary steps to complete the study.

When running a clinical trial, the design is a major factor. The research designer seeks to minimize variability in hopes that factors other than the treatment of interest do not get in the way. While it is sometimes difficult to control variability when human subjects are involved, study sites do their best. When designing clinical trials it helps to refer to previous trials, because they are often useful in avoiding mistakes and when verifying research methods. Also, clinical trials are frequently used to confirm the outcomes of previous studies, in case they contain blatant design flaws or methodological errors.

There are a few items to consider in study designs. First, clinical trials are time-consuming, require a lot of work, are costly, and require collaboration between physicians, study participants, data managers, and nurses. Moreover, challenges are often encountered when recruiting a patient cohort, but of course, recruiting is a big part of the process. Finally, studies tend to have a “window of opportunity” where they are most feasible both for the site and sponsor company and during which they will have the most positive (or negative) impact on clinical practice.

Clinical trials help to test interventions and develop almost all areas of medicine. Many times, a pharmaceutical company’s ability to mass-produce and sell a drug depends on the results of these trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) looks for demonstrations of safety and effectiveness before it will approve a new treatment, and this is precisely what we do our research for. The more well-conducted studies we run, the faster medicine can advance and improve public health.