Boston PainCare and Boston Headache Institute are proud to offer opportunities to participate in clinical research studies. A clinical study is research that involves human volunteers (also called participants) and aims to add to medical knowledge and develop new treatment options. There are two main types of clinical studies: clinical trials (also called interventional studies) and observational studies.
In a clinical trial, participants receive specific interventions according to the research plan or protocol created by the investigators. These interventions may be medical products, such as drugs or devices; procedures; or changes to participants’ behavior, such as diet. Clinical trials may compare a new medical approach to a standard one that is already available, to a placebo that contains no active ingredients, or to no intervention. Some clinical trials compare interventions that are already available to each other. When a new product or approach is being studied, it is not usually known whether it will be helpful, harmful, or no different than available alternatives (including no intervention). The investigators try to determine the safety and efficacy of the intervention by measuring certain outcomes in the participants. For example, investigators may give a drug or treatment to participants who have high blood pressure to see whether their blood pressure decreases.
In an observational study, investigators assess health outcomes in groups of participants according to a research protocol. Participants may receive treatments as part of their routine medical care, but participants are not assigned to specific interventions by the investigator (as in a clinical trial). For example, investigators may conduct an observational study with a group of older adults to learn more about the effects of different lifestyles on cardiac health. This research is often conducted to help understand the effects of current medical treatments and behaviors used in typical medical settings, and to generate new research questions to study in a clinical trial.
Why participate in research?
The potential benefits of participating in a clinical trial:
- Access to promising new treatments, often not yet available
- Close medical care and support by a research team who understand your medical condition
- The opportunity to play a more active role in your own health care
- Gain a greater understanding of your medical condition
- The chance to help others and improve future medical treatment through your contributions
- Study medical visits and study medications or treatments are often provided to you for no cost and no co-pays