Clinical trials are conducted to help find better ways to prevent, screen, diagnose or treat a disease or to improve the quality of life of those who have the disease.
Clinical trials are conducted worldwide by universities, hospitals, research institutions or drug companies. They vary in size from single centre studies to studies conducted at multiple centres in several countries. Teams of doctors, nurses, scientists, research assistants, data managers, pharmacists and other health professionals supervise participants throughout the trial process.
Trials are strictly regulated and each one follows an approved, carefully controlled protocol. A protocol is a study plan that ensures the safety of participants in the trial and is designed to answer specific research questions. Before the trial can begin the protocol must be reviewed and approved by a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), made up of medical/scientific professionals and lay people. It is the HREC’s responsibility to ensure the protection of the rights, safety and well-being of people involved in a trial.