There is an inclination to base practice decisions on one’s own experience as a clinician, recalling outcomes from recent cases, which can influence subsequent practice. These observations may be at odds with actual evidence-based treatment. Until recently, published medical literature was also observational in nature, without evaluation of controlled and usually randomized interventions. Thus, Clinical trials provide a means to pool controlled observations in an objective and scientific way, allowing clinicians to decide with the best available data, what treatment will work best for each patient. This shift from an experience-based to an evidence-based model which has characterized medical practice over the past three decades, is as a result of the clinical trials.
Clinical research allows physicians to aid patients who cannot be helped by available treatments. It allows them to provide not just high-quality, but often expensive, cutting-edge health care to those who lack even the most basic form of insurance.
Participation in a trial provides you an opportunity to meet other investigators from across your country and around the world to exchange ideas and plan future collaboration. It will also help you, as a physician, to remain at the cutting edge of a specific area in medicine
Investigators who have contributed to the clinical trial are often called to be members of writing groups and thus, may become coauthors of articles submitted for publication in a scientific journal. Clinical trials often generate a number of published reports asides the main article.
Participation in a clinical trial as an investigator adds prestige to your private practice or institution. Local media might also find the project of interest, adding to local recognition.
You do not have to be concerned by your lack of trial experience, as a newcomer to clinical research. Often, a practitioner transitioning into investigator can learn the regulations and understand the procedures involved during organizational meetings before the initiation of a study where the study protocol and procedures will be thoroughly reviewed. A detailed manual of operations for reference purpose and telephone assistance is usually available.
Potential investigators may be rightly concerned by time constraints as screening patients, explaining the study, and obtaining informed consent and follow-up all take time. Nonetheless, physician time commitment can usually be kept manageable with planning and efficient use of a study coordinator and other staff.
Asides the amount of reimbursement for participation in a trial, other factors such as the subject under investigation, the group involved, the experience, possibility of co-authorship of an article, etc. justifies the time spent on the project.
Also, only few legal actions have been brought against physicians who participate in clinical trials so this is not a cause for concern.
Finally, it provides a way for physicians to not only treat patients but also participate in the advancement of scientific knowledge and understanding that may lead to vast improvements in medicine for all. Perhaps the greatest reward for an investigator is the understanding that the results of a trial will add, in some way, to the science of medicine and patient care.