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What is a clinical trial?

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Clinical trials are research studies designed to answer specific health questions. The purpose of research (clinical trials) is to translate medical knowledge into better personal and community health.Clinical trials, conducted under close medical supervision, can test how well new medical approaches work in people, and helps to find new and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, control and treat illnesses. A clinical trial should not be confused with medical care. Medical care is a specific plan by your family doctor to relieve or cure a specific health problem.

There are many different types of clinical trials. Some test new treatments, new combinations of drugs, innovative medical devices, new surgical procedures or radiation therapy. Screening trials test the best way to detect certain health conditions or diseases. Prevention trials look for better ways to prevent disease in people who have never had the disease or to prevent a disease from returning. Diagnostic trials are conducted to find better tests or procedures for diagnosing a particular disease or condition. Quality of Life studies explore and measure ways to improve the comfort and quality of life for individuals with a chronic illness.

Within the Conemaugh Health System, we are dedicated to providing high quality care along with research for better methods of testing and treatment. Joining a research study is an important personal decision and always voluntary. Research volunteers are an integral part of this effort in that without their help, we could not advance medical science and improve health. If you are asked to join a research study, learn all you can about the study; thoroughly review the consent document; and, if you choose, take the time to discuss the option with trusted family and friends.