Who can take part in clinical trials?

A clinical trial should accurately define its participants and should only accept those who meet the description of the eligibility criteria.

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A clinical trial, which is a medical research involving people, can either enlist people who have a specific disease to test their response to treatment or recruit healthy people to find out new methods of screening, diagnosis or prevention.

Clinical trials require people of varied backgrounds

Previously, only white men participated in clinical trials and the results obtained were generalised.

Women and men of other ethnic backgrounds now participate in clinical trials as studies have shown they can have results that are different from white men. The National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) are two bodies that ensure that clinical trials being conducted involve people of varied background. These days, people can take part in paid research studies in places such as trials4us.co.uk.

Children taking part in clinical studies

Another group to consider is children, who will need a study that focuses specifically on them. This is because the treatment of illness can be different for children. For example, they may need lower doses of drugs than adults. In addition, the stage of development of a child will determine if treatment will work or not.

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There are strict rules to follow when recruiting children for clinical studies. Enlisting children (people aged 18 and under) as participants of a trial will require the consent of parents. In a clinical study where there will be a higher risk than usual to children, both parents will be required to give their consent. Also, a child aged seven or older must give their approval to partake in the trial.

All research in general, regardless of participants, must ensure the safety of volunteers. The research should therefore be ethical and safe and should be approved by regulatory bodies.

To summarise, a clinical trial should only recruit those who meet the eligibility criteria. A clinical trial can either check a treatment or find out new ways of diagnosis or prevention. Clinical trials require people of different ethnic backgrounds. Clinical trials involving children are specifically tailored to them as the treatment of disease in children is different from adults. All research should be ethical and should ensure participants are safe.

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