Clinical care is the individualized care that a patient receives from a healthcare provider. Clinical research—also known as clinical study or investigation—is a scientific study of how a new medicine or treatment works in people. Through clinical research, doctors find new and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, control, and treat illnesses.
It is easy to confuse clinical care with clinical research. However, they have different purposes: Clinical care is provided in order to treat an individual with a disease, while clinical research is performed to answer a specific question about a disease or treatment.
Your child’s doctor makes decisions about his or her clinical care based on current medical knowledge and your child’s special needs. At times, your child’s doctor may ask you if you are interested in having your child participate in a research study. As a parent, you must decide for yourself—and for your child—whether or not to participate in a research study. The doctor should not make the decision for you.
To find a clinical study, you can begin by asking your child’s doctor if he or she knows of any that would be appropriate for your child. You can also search for government-funded research studies online at www.clinicaltrials.gov.
During a clinical study, your child’s care will be directed by a standardized research protocol. There are some elements of your child’s care that will remain unknown to you and your child’s physician during the study. It is important to remember that you may opt to withdraw your child from a study at any time.