Clinical trials: Learn more about innovative treatment

People may assume health research happens only in university or government labs, but community health systems and providers carry out many clinical trials.

Perhaps clinical trials aren’t the hot topic at your local coffee shop. After all, a recent poll shows less than 10 percent of people in the U.S. participate in clinical trials even though the National Institutes for Health say they offer hope and help advance medical knowledge.

All of this changes when we (or someone we love) face a critical health issue. Then we want to know: Can research help?

Types of research at Norton Healthcare

People may assume health-focused research occurs only in university or government labs. While bench research (scientific or cellular experiments) often is done in these settings, community health care systems and providers carry out many clinical research studies and trials.

Norton Healthcare maintains a robust clinical research program. Key areas in which we offer clinical trials include:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Cancer
  • Orthopedics
  • Maternal-fetal medicine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Headache
  • Neurosciences
  • Spine
Frequently asked questions

With input from Stephen Wyatt, DMD, Norton Healthcare’s chief research executive, we tackle some common questions about clinical research:

Q: How do you know what trials are available?

A searchable federal database lists information (study protocols) that outlines each trial’s purpose, recruitment status and eligibility requirements.

Q: How do I qualify?

Start with asking your physician what trials are available for you. It’s a common misconception that research is a so-called “last resort.” Often, the sooner you start a clinical trial, the better.

Q: What are the benefits?

You may gain access to advanced therapies or technologies not yet widely available. Treatment can exceed set care standards since you’re in close contact with your care team and see them often. You’ll add to the greater good by helping move science forward.

Q: What are the risks?

Numerous agencies closely monitor and control clinical trials. Unknown side effects are possible, but you are followed closely by your care team. Trials typically happen in phases, so potential risks may be relatively lower in later phases, which focus on testing the effectiveness and safety of treatments or devices that have undergone earlier review.

Q: Do participants get paid?

In most cases, no. Participation is voluntary, although some studies provide stipends for time, inconvenience or travel.

Q: Do you pay for your care?

You or your insurance is not charged for tests or procedures required as part of the research or outside of what your condition would usually involve. You would still be responsible for costs of medications, tests and procedures you would routinely get if you weren’t in a study.

Some insurance plans deny payment for routine care costs if you take part in research, so it’s wise to check this before entering a study.

Q: What are my rights?

Study participants provide informed consent to show they were given information on potential risks, benefits and alternatives. A signed consent is not a contract; you may leave a study at any time. Your federally protected health privacy (HIPPA) rights still apply.

Q: What happens when the study is over?

You will still receive care from your provider. Detailed results are rarely shared with participants, though it’s common to be aware of general outcomes, for example if a study leads to approval of a new medication.


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