You may be considering participating in a clinical trial, but have questions or concerns.

Clinical trials are biomedical or health-related research studies in humans. Every current Parkinson's treatment is the result of earlier clinical trials with volunteer participants. Here are some of the most common myths about clinical trials—and the facts you should know.

Myth: I'll just be a guinea pig for research.
Fact: Every clinical trial has a rigid set of instructions called a protocol, and a primary investigator who oversees the study. According to the Maryland Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center, people who participate in clinical trials tend to do better than people who do not, even if they are receiving a placebo. Participants receive intense medical attention and monitoring from healthcare professionals who are especially interested in their disease. Clinical trials are a way for patients to take an active role controlling their disease, so they often feel better.

Myth: Only people with Parkinson's disease can participate.
Fact: Clinical trials typically need control participants, who are usually healthy people. If you have friends and family who want to help, they may be eligible for a clinical trial.

Myth: There are plenty of people participating in clinical trials; they don't need me.
Fact: Unfortunately, this is not true. Fewer than 10 percent of Parkinson's patients ever take part in a clinical trial. In fact, The Michael J. Fox Foundation reports that 30 percent of Parkinson's clinical trials fail to recruit even one person and 85 percent face delays due to limited participation.

Myth: I will risk receiving the placebo and not seeing improvement in my disease.
Fact: This myth actually raises two important points. In addition to interventional trials, for example taking a drug or undergoing a procedure, there are also observational studies in which researchers note patients' responses to whatever they are studying. They also conduct clinical trials that evaluate non-pharmaceutical treatments.

Furthermore, new is not necessarily better. The results of a clinical trial may demonstrate that a new potential treatment is no better—or may even be worse—than current treatments. Without clinical trials, medical researchers would have no way of knowing the most likely outcome.

Myth: Once I enroll in a clinical trial, I have to remain in the study until the end.
Fact:  You can leave a clinical trial at any time.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation listed over 170 clinical trials for Parkinson's disease. You can register with the Fox Trial Finder, which matches volunteers with appropriate clinical trials.



Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Clinical Trial Participation." Web.

Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Fox Trial Finder." Web.

Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Why Clinical Trials." Web. "Understanding Clinical Trials." Web. 20 September 20 2007.

National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. "Are Clinical Studies For You?" Web. 27 August 2009.

National Cancer Institute. "Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies." Web. 11 September 2011.

Maryland Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center. "Clinical Research Trials as a Treatment Option." Web. 13 April 2011.