Clinical research in psychiatry involves people who volunteer to assist the medical community with adding knowledge about a particular condition. The purpose is to use a scientific approach to find better ways of preventing, detecting and treating mental illness. Also known as participants, they may join one of two types of studies: clinical trials and observational studies.
Clinical Trial Participation
If you decide to participate on a trial, you will receive what is known as interventions based on the research protocol, or plan, that investigators created. Interventions may consist of:
- medical drugs or devices
- changes to your diet or other behavior patterns
Some trials compare a new medical approach to one that is already available to patients. Other ways a new approach is tested can be through the use of a placebo where no active ingredients are used. Other clinical trials are conducted to compare current interventions.Since it is unknown whether a new approach will be helpful or harmful, investigators also want to determine the efficacy and safety of the intervention. Generally, they will measure certain outcomes that participants experience. In practice, the investigator may give you a treatment for an anxiety disorder to see if your behavior improves or changes.
Structure of Clinical Studies
A principal investigator leads every clinical study. This person is often a licensed mental health professional. There is also a research team who works with the participants and lead investigator throughout the process.Sponsors for these studies may include academic centers, pharmaceutical companies, federal agencies and other organizations. There are times when the clinical research is sponsored by doctors or other healthcare providers.With observational studies, investigators also assess mental health outcomes in participants based on a research plan. Interventions are also used, but unlike clinical trials, specific interventions are not assigned by the investigator. The research is structured to follow its name: observational, where the investigator simply observes a group of participants to learn more about the effects of their mental condition on their lifestyles.
Where to Find Studies
Research trials and studies are not possible unless volunteers like you choose to participate. The results of these trials can have positive effects on people’s everyday lives. If you desire to be a part of one, you can connect with organizations that match individuals with researchers. Even healthy people are needed to assist with making new discoveries.Many industry-sponsored clinical research trials actively recruit patients. There are resources available that allow you to search by the mental health condition and location for trials.