People choose to take part in clinical trials for many reasons. Usually, they hope for benefits for themselves such as hope for a cure of disease, a longer time to live, an increased quality of life, or a way to decrease or eliminate pain. Some people choose to participate because of the financial compensation they receive. Others may want to contribute to a research effort that may help others.
People who participate in clinical trials are among the first to receive new research treatments before they become widely available. Sometimes these people have the first chance to benefit from a cutting-edge treatment. However, there is no way to know whether an investigational treatment will be effective for a patient. (Even standard treatments, although effective in many patients, do not guarantee benefits for everyone.) Some people in a study may not receive the active treatment and instead will receive a placebo (i.e., a sugar pill). Although all patients in clinical trials are carefully monitored both during and after conclusion of the trial, there are always known and unknown risks associated with new treatments. Patients should decide whether or not to participate in a study only after they understand both the potential risks and benefits.