Do we need to change the way we talk about clinical trials?

Adaptive clinical trials aim to evaluate a medical, surgery or behavioural intervention. With these trials, researchers find out if a new treatment is safe and effective and what its side effects are.

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Taking part in clinical trials

People decide to take part in clinical trials for different reasons: treatment for their health issues has not worked, there is no treatment for their disease or they’re healthy but want to help to find new treatments. For some people, it is about playing an active role in their health care. Whatever the motivation, their contribution will definitely help science and future generations.

Patients who decide to volunteer for clinical trials need to be vetted to make sure they are suitable. Participants’ testimonies are very positive and reassuring: many patients feel that their life is not just in the hands of doctors and scientists and that they are actively contributing to their improvements and well-being. Many patients felt empowered and this new state of mind gives them new energy to face their illnesses which sometimes are degenerative and threaten their ability to do anything.

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Patients usually embark on the clinical trial journey with a sense of trust and positivity. But what happens if the outcome of the trial is not the desired one? The feeling of failure can suddenly kick in, and can bring negative thoughts and feelings of imminent death. Patients can feel disillusioned, and their outlook on life becomes grim again. For this reason, during clinical trials, patients must be valued and helped to find their self-worth; moreover, the language needs to change.

Richmond Pharmacology is researching clinical trial, including adaptive phase 1 studies – please visit to find out more.

The language needs to change

– Changes need to be made to drugs literature, which often refer to the patients using them as a “failure” for not having being treated by a certain drug before.
– Forms and questionnaires need to be changed to make sure they are able to record every type of experience – black or white answers are just not always possible.
– Scientists and doctors need to have an emphatic and positive approach to patients so as to treat them like humans and not just numbers – this could have a devastating impact on a patient’s mental well-being.