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What is Clinical Research?

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Learn how clinical research works, what research teams do, and how you can get involved as a study participant. Stay tuned for the next video in the Clinical Research Video Series: Who is Conducting Research at CHOP?


What is Clinical Research?

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute houses one of the largest pediatric research programs in the country, dedicated to solving the most challenging problems in children's health.

Research at CHOP takes many forms. Some people work in labs.

Other teams work in the community.

And some researchers conduct clinical research work at the bedside and in outpatient clinics.

But what is clinical research, and what does it look like at CHOP?

Clinical research is research that involves people.

Research participants help us learn about how the human body works, how kids grow and develop, why specific diseases happen, and how medical conditions can be evaluated and treated most effectively. This includes learning about new medications and medical devices.

Clinical research in the community studies topics such as safety, injury prevention, and behavior. Some research projects help make the health system work better for the people who use it.

Many people think that you can only take part in research if you have a specific disease or medical condition.

But a lot of studies also need healthy volunteers for comparison or to help understand how the human body functions in different people.

Many clinical research volunteers enjoy participating in research because it gives them the chance to help others. Some volunteers appreciate the chance to learn something new about how their body or brain works.

Before a clinical research study or clinical trial begins, an administrative group known as the Institutional Review Board reviews the plan and makes sure it's safe for participants. The Board consists of medical professionals, ethics experts, and people from the community. A study can't start recruiting until the board approves it.

When you volunteer for a study, the first thing you'll do is speak with a study coordinator or investigator to learn about the purpose of the study, the tasks involved, and the possible risks and benefits of participation.

If you'd like to continue with the study, you'll sign a "consent" form that gives permission to the investigator to enroll you as a participant.

If children are involved in a study, the study staff will explain it to them in a way they can easily understand. Children over the age of 7 must also give permission to participate in a study. This is called "assent."

It's important to know that even if you give consent or assent at the beginning of a study, you can change your mind and stop participating at any time. Participation in clinical research is always your choice.

Some research studies involve a few simple tasks, like filling out a survey or getting a physical exam. Other studies have more than one visit and may include blood draws, new medications, or imaging, such as MRIs or ultrasounds.

Participating in a clinical research study doesn't necessarily mean you'll need to travel to CHOP.

Clinical research can happen at home, in a doctor's office, in the hospital, or even online.

At CHOP, we're grateful for our clinical research volunteers who partner with us to help advance the next breakthroughs in medicine.

If you're interested in volunteering for a clinical research study at CHOP, we encourage you to check out the Research Discovery Finder tool to see what studies may be a good fit for you or your child.