Frequently Asked Questions about Clinical Trials


Located in the heart of Central Illinois, we have access to 2.1 million people in central and southern Illinois. We recruit our patients from the clinical practices of our investigators, primary, physician, and patient self referrals.

Please call us for more information at 217-876-4750.

What is a Clinical Trial?

Are you eligible?

Are you protected?

What are the benefits?

What are the risks?

What about cost?

The Good News

What is a Clinical Trial?

A clinical trial is a research study conducted with people to find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases.  Advances in medicine are the result of ideas developed through research.  New treatments must prove to be safe and effective in scientific studies before they can be made widely available.  Clinical trials provide the best way to test a new treatment.

The different kinds of clinical studies include the following:

  • Prevention studies look at lifestyle changes or drugs that may help prevent disease.
  • Diagnostic studies look at ways of detecting deseases or finding out more about a disease.
  • Treatment studies examine new drugs or other ways of treating diseases, or they may look at new combinations of established treatment.
Are you eligible?

Each study is designed to answer a set of research questions and enroll patients with certain types of disease and a certain health status. If you fit the guidelines, you may be eligible to take part. A study can yield reliable answers only if all cases are similar within certain parameters so that the results can be compared.

Are you protected?

The ethical and legal codes that govern medical practice apply to clinical trials. And, most clinical research is federally regulated, with built-in safeguards to protect participants. These safeguards include regular review of the protocol and the progress of each study by researchers at other places.

For example, federally regulated clinical trials must first be approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) located at the institution where the study is to take place.

What are the benifits?
  • Potentially, the new treatment, diagnostic test or preventive measure will turn out to be better than a more established procedure. Patients who take part in a procedure that does prove to be better have the first chance to benefit from it.
  • In studies where one treatment is compared to another, patients receive either the most advanced and accepted treatment for the disease they have--known as the "standard" treatment--or a new treatment that has shown promise of being at least as beneficial as the standard treatment, if not better.
  • Many patients have said that they take part in studies because it provides an apportunity to contribute to new knowledge that may benefit others.
What are the risks?

Medical studies can carry unknown dangers and side effects, as well as hoped for benefits.  Many medical treatments have known side effects, but because clinical studies are testing new treatments, the risks involved are not always known ahead of time.  The risks and benefits of each study are explained in Informed Consent form that patients discuss with their doctors or nurses before agreeing to participate.

What about cost?

Some expenses are paid for in part or entirely by the study's sponsor.  Some volunteers may be eligible for reimbursement for their time commitment to the study.

Do insurance or managed care plans cover the cost of participation?  Health insurance programs vary in what they cover and what they don't.  Some cover part or all of the cost, some make decisions on a case-by-case basis and some never or rarely cover clinical study costs.

The Good News

Through research, we've found better prevention methods, diagnostic procedures and treatments for a variety of diseases.  And it is through research that we will continue to discover new and better treatment methods.

Decatur Memorial Hospital is committed to being the leader in research in the communities we serve, and has the staff and facilities to support continued expansion into a variety of clinical research areas.

For more information regarding clinical trials at Decatur Memorial Hospital, call 217-876-4750.