What Types of Trials Are Performed?

There are five main categories of clinical trials and each targets a different, yet specific, element of the health care process.

  1. Treatment Trials aim to test the efficacy of a new or experimental treatment such as drugs, surgeries, devices, or radiation therapy. In treatment trials, participants with a specific condition or disease have the opportunity to try a treatment that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
  2. Prevention Trials target ways to prevent a disease from presenting or recurring and can include drugs, lifestyle changes and even alternative therapies such as vitamins and nutritional supplements.
  3. Diagnostic Trials test new and more effective ways to identify a disease or condition.
  4. Screening Trails, similar to diagnostic trials, target methods of finding the best way to detect a disease or condition.
  5. Quality of life Trials differ the most as these studies focus on individuals with chronic illness and analyze various ways to improve their quality of life.

Clinical trials are also sometimes classified as interventional or observational. Interventional trials expose new treatments and treatment methods to individuals of a chosen group in a controlled environment. Observational trials take a given health issue and assess that issue as it applies to a large group of people in a natural setting (e.g. students in a specific school district or residents of a geographical area).