First Time User? Enroll now.
As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, our visitor policy is evolving as well. Get full details.
For the most current information, please visit our Coronavirus resource pages.
Home > Health Library > Clinical trial
A clinical trial is a research study on human volunteers designed to answer specific health questions. The purpose of a clinical trial is to find out whether a medicine or treatment regimen is safe and effective against a specific condition or disease.
Clinical trials compare the effectiveness of the study medicine or treatment against standard, accepted treatment or a placebo. (A placebo is an inactive substance used to compare results with an active substance). Early (phase I) trials establish the safety, toxicity, and safe dosing ranges of a new treatment.
A clinical trial may be sponsored by a government agency, such as the National Institutes of Health, or a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company. All clinical trials are guided by government regulations. These rules make sure that participants are not likely to be harmed and that they fully understand the risks and benefits of participating.
Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Michael Seth Rabin MD - Medical Oncology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.