As I suspect is the case with many people, my experience with medical clinical trials dates back to my undergrad days. As a college student, I was rather strapped for cash, so popping pills in exchange for two hundred dollars seemed like a pretty good idea at the time.
The Clinical Trial
The flier declared that my university’s Health Center was looking for “adult men and women 18+, currently suffering from a sore throat.” Every cold I’ve ever had, since I was a toddler, has been accompanied by a sore throat, and since I was living in a dormitory, exposed to more germs than I had ever been in my life, I had a perpetual case of the sniffles. The flier’s description fit me perfectly.
I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t a little wary of participating in a clinical trial, though. No matter how many times I told myself that clinical trials were both common and necessary, it just seemed like a scenario in which something could easily go wrong. In the end, though, the siren song of the two hundred dollars won out, and I showed up at the Health Center the bright and early on the morning that the clinical trial began.
My nerves must have shown on my face, as the guy standing next to me turned and asked, in a vaguely condescending tone, “First time?”
I nodded, and he went on to inform me that he did these all the time, and they were really quite boring, actually. To be sure, all the other students in the waiting room seemed bored, not nervous, and that went a long way toward calming me down.
Within an hour, I came to understand just how clinical trials had earned their reputation for not being very exciting. I had to fill out even more paperwork-an almost impossible amount, and I’m pretty sure I answered the same questions three times. Then I was sent home with a bottle of pills and instructed to take them regularly and report back.
Some Friendly Advice
Overall, it was a very underwhelming experience-most medical clinical trials are. If you’re going to be participating in one, I strongly recommend that you don’t waste as much energy worrying as I did. You’re much better off attending to practical concerns, like taking care of whatever paperwork you can ahead of time.
Seriously, the paperwork is a nightmare. The good thing is that that’s the only part that’s scary.