The Clinical Research Process

Clinical trials (also called “clinical studies” or “research studies”) help determine if medicines, medical devices, and tests are safe and effective.

The Clinical Trial Journey

Video credit to Mayo Clinic:

Top Questions and Answers

Who can join a clinical trial?

Answer: Almost anyone can participate in a clinical trial.

Clinical research offers a way for almost anyone — regardless of their age, ethnicity, or background — to help improve human health and wellbeing.

Healthy volunteers often participate to help others and contribute to moving science forward.

Participants with an illness or disease join studies to help others, but also to possibly receive the newest treatment and additional care and attention from the clinical trial staff.

Will I be compensated for being in a clinical trial?

Answer: Yes, most trials offer compensation. 

Most Envision Trials studies offer compensation for study-related time and travel. The amount paid varies for every study. Studies often require several visits, each of which can involve payment by the sponsor.

The amount paid for participating differs among studies and depends on complexity, length of the trial, number of visits, etc. At Envision Trials, most studies do not require overnight stays.

Envision Trials is transparent about study requirements and potential compensation — you can ask about study compensation during your first phone call with Envision Trials, or you can ask during your in-office screening.

What are the potential risks or benefits?

Answer: It depends on the study.

Every effort is made to ensure the participant’s safety during a study. The ethics and laws that govern medical practice also apply to clinical trials. However, clinical trials involve investigational products that could be ineffective or cause serious side effects.

Clinical trials are overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Clinical trials also follow strict plans called protocols, which are reviewed by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) to make sure patient rights are protected.

Every study is different, but the informed consent of each one ensures you understand what will happen. If you are selected, you’ll learn about the product being studied, your role in the trial, potential side effects, and the visits required. In some studies, you may receive an inactive placebo. Envision Trials also conducts interview-only studies that do not involve medications.

Helpful Videos

Deciding to Participate in Clinical Trials

This video discusses types of human research with a focus on clinical trials, and explains common terms that potential participants should know.

Go to for more information about deciding whether to participate in research. While there, download and print a list of potential questions to ask the researchers.

Why I Participate in Alzheimer's Research - Bob's Story (Short version)

While Bob doesn’t have relatives with Alzheimer’s, he has a daughter with Down syndrome, which puts her at increased risk for developing dementia. He is a healthy control volunteer, motivated by his daughter’s condition and his love of science. He also discusses and debunks some concerns that may make potential volunteers hesitant to join a study.

Learn more about volunteering for Alzheimer's and dementia clinical trials here.

Why join a clinical trial?

Get early access to new study medicines

Clinical studies offer more care options for patients suffering from common, unique, and rare health conditions. 

Help move science forward

Clinical studies offer a way for almost anyone — regardless of their background — to help improve human health and wellbeing.

Receive compensation if you qualify

Most Envision Trials studies will compensate for time and travel thanks to the sponsors. We'll let you know what to expect during your first phone call with Envision Trials.

Give hope to people worldwide

Clinical trials offer hope for many people and an opportunity to help researchers find better treatments for others in the future. 

1: Joining a clinical trial

To apply to participate in a clinical trial, you can either enter your information on the forms on every study page or contact us. No matter how you contact Envision Trials, an enrollment specialist will be available to answer questions and find the most suitable study for you. 

2: After you apply

The information provided will be reviewed, and the subjects will be selected. We will contact you through the route of your choice, to let you know the step to follow and also, you can clarify all the doubts that may arise; In case you are not selected for that specific clinical trial, you may be taken into account for future projects.

3: After you’re accepted

After a successful phone screening, you will visit a Envision Trials clinic for a physical screening. You will need to bring identification information to confirm your identity and medical history. This is required for every study, and is for your safety. 

4: Informed consent

Each study is different. The informed consent process ensures you understand what will happen in the study. You’ll learn about the product being studied, your role in the trial, potential side effects, and the number of visits required. After you fully understand your role in the study, you may sign an informed consent form. You may withdraw your consent at any time. 

5: Getting screened

You will receive a physical exam that will vary depending on the study. As an added benefit of participating, you may receive specific exams or tests — the results of which may be shared with you. 

6: Medication administration

When you are given an investigational medication (or placebo), Envision Trials'  clinical staff will closely monitor your health. You may undergo additional tests to assess the medicine’s effect and/or to safeguard your health. The Envision Trials clinic is staffed by healthcare professionals who make your safety a top priority.

7: Compensation

You will be compensated for your time. Each study varies; you can learn more about that study compensation during your first phone call with Envision Trials, or you can ask during your in-office screening. 

8: Following up

Some studies require several visits to the clinic. You may be eligible to receive compensation for your time and travel for each visit. Any follow-up necessary for the study would be detailed in the informed consent process so you’ll never be surprised by what a study entails.

More questions and answers

To learn more about clinical research, visit

What is a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are conducted to allow safety and efficacy data to be collected for new drugs, medical devices, or treatment techniques. Depending on the type of product and the stage of its development, healthy volunteers and/or patients enroll into small pilot studies or larger scale studies in patients that often compare the new product with the currently prescribed treatment.

As positive safety and efficacy data is gathered, more patients are typically involved. Clinical trials can vary in size from a single center in one country to multi-center mega-trials across several countries.

Who pays for clinical trials?

Clinical trials are sponsored or funded by a variety of organizations or individuals such as physicians, medical institutions, foundations, voluntary groups, and pharmaceutical companies, in addition to federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). Trials can take place in various locations, such as hospitals, universities, doctors’ offices, or community clinics.

Who can participate in a clinical trial?

All clinical trials have guidelines about who can participate and criteria that must be met. The factors that allow someone to participate in a clinical trial are called inclusion criteria and those that disallow someone from participating are called exclusion criteria.

These criteria are based on such factors as age, gender, the type and stage of a disease, previous treatment history, and other medical conditions. Before joining a clinical trial, a participant must qualify for the study. Some research studies seek participants with illnesses or conditions to be studied in the clinical trial, while others need healthy participants.

What should people consider before joining a clinical trial?

People should know as much as possible about the clinical trial and feel comfortable asking the members of the health care team questions about it, the care expected while in a trial, and the cost of the trial. The following questions might be helpful for the participant to discuss with the health care team. Some of the answers to these questions are found in the informed consent document.

Why participate in a clinical trial?

Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research.

What is informed consent?

Informed consent is the process of learning the key facts about a clinical trial before deciding whether or not to participate. It is also a continuing process throughout the study to provide information for participants. To help someone decide whether or not to participate, the doctors and nurses involved in the trial explain the details of the study. Then the research team provides an informed consent document that includes details about the study, such as its purpose, duration, required procedures, and key contacts. Risks and potential benefits are explained in the informed consent document. The participant then decides whether or not to sign the document. Informed consent is not a contract, and the participant may withdraw from the trial at any time. 

What is a protocol?

A protocol is a study plan on which all clinical trials are based. The plan is carefully designed to safeguard the health of the participants as well as answer specific research questions. A protocol describes what types of people can participate in the trial; the schedule of tests, procedures, medications, and dosages; and the length of the study. While in a clinical trial, participants following a protocol are seen regularly by the research staff to monitor their health and to determine the safety and effectiveness of their treatment. 

What are side effects and adverse reactions?

Side effects are any undesired actions or effects of drug or treatment. Negative or adverse effects may include headache, nausea, hair loss, skin irritation, or other physical problems. Experimental treatments must be evaluated for both immediate and long-term side effects.

How is my safety protected?

The ethical and legal codes that govern medical practice also apply to clinical trials. In addition, most clinical research is federally regulated with built in safeguards to protect the participants. The trial follows a carefully controlled protocol, a study plan which details what researchers will do in the study. As a clinical trial progresses, researchers report the results of the trial at scientific meetings, to medical journals, and to various government agencies. Individual participants’ names will remain secret and will not be mentioned in these reports (See Confidentiality Regarding Trial Participants).

What are the phases of a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are conducted in phases. The trials at each phase have a different purpose and help scientists answer different questions:

What is a control group?

A control is the standard by which experimental observations are evaluated. In many clinical trials, one group of patients will be given an experimental drug or treatment, while the control group is given either a standard treatment for the illness or a placebo.

What is a placebo?

A placebo is an inactive pill, liquid, or powder that has no treatment value. In clinical trials, experimental treatments are often compared with placebos to assess the treatment’s effectiveness. In some studies, the participants in the control group will receive a placebo instead of an active drug or treatment.

Does a participant continue to work with a primary health care provider while in a trial?

Most clinical trials provide short-term treatments related to a designated illness or condition, but do not provide extended or complete primary health care. In addition, by having the health care provider work with the research team, the participant can ensure that other medications or treatments will not conflict with the protocol.

Will my privacy be protected?

Yes. All medical records and research materials that identify you will be held confidential so far as permitted by law. Only individuals with study affiliation will have access to your personal information

Can a participant leave a trial after it’s started?

Yes. A participant can leave a clinical trial at any time. When withdrawing from the trial, the participant should let the research team know so that we may retrieve any remaining medication and do an exit visit if possible.