Who Can Participate in a Clinical Trial?

All children and adults can participate in a clinical trial if they meet the required inclusion/exclusion criteria for a particular study. Every clinical trial uses inclusion/exclusion to determine if a participant is eligible to enroll in the study.

These criteria often include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Whether a patient is newly diagnosed versus recurrent diagnosis
  • Current and past treatment

Volunteers may choose to participate in a clinical trial for two main reasons:

Healthy Volunteers: these participants join a clinical trial in order to test new medications, devices and/or prevention efforts. Clinical trials that request/require healthy volunteers are not meant to provide direct health benefits to the volunteers, but rather, to advance scientific knowledge and treatment of a particular medical condition. Some of these studies do pose some level of risk for patients and can sometimes cause discomfort. Enrolling in these trials includes a consent process, which allows the volunteer to have a detailed discussion regarding any potential risks, harm and benefits that may result from enrollment in the trial.

Patient Volunteers: these participants join a clinical trial in order to test new medications, procedures and/or treatment options that may directly benefit a particular diagnosis. Clinical trials involving patient volunteers (CERN’s clinical trials are created for patient volunteers) are used to better understand a particular diagnosis and provide evidence through scientific measures “the effects and limitations of the experimental drug.” Often times these clinical trials use a placebo or a dosage large enough only to show or further prove the effectiveness and limitations of that particular drug.

More information about clinical trials is available at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) website, including the following resources:

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