Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. These studies also may show which medical approaches work best for certain illnesses or groups of people. Clinical trials produce the best data available for health care decisionmaking.
The purpose of clinical trials is research, so the studies follow strict scientific standards. These standards protect patients and help produce reliable study results.
Clinical trials are one of the final stages of a long and careful research process. The process often begins in a laboratory (lab), where scientists first develop and test new ideas.
If an approach seems promising, the next step may involve animal testing. This shows how the approach affects a living body and whether it's harmful. However, an approach that works well in the lab or animals doesn't always work well in people. Thus, research in humans is needed.
For safety purposes, clinical trials start with small groups of patients to find out whether a new approach causes any harm. In later phases of clinical trials, researchers learn more about the new approach's risks and benefits.
A clinical trial may find that a new strategy, treatment, or device:
All of these results are important because they advance medical knowledge and help improve patient care.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans.
September 13, 2012
No significant difference in asthma control across three approaches to adjust medication dose in mild asthma
A study comparing three common approaches to periodically adjust the dosage of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for people with mild asthma has found no detectable differences in how often a person’s asthma worsened. The methods examined in this study were a patient-guided modification based on symptoms, an assessment made by an examining physician, or the results of a breath test to measure inflammation.
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.