How will I find out if I can join a clinical trial?

I understand that not everyone is chosen to participate in a clinical trial. How do I determine if I am eligible?

All clinical trials have specific guidelines about who can participate. After you agree to join a trial, you will be screened by clinical staff to ensure you are eligible. During this process, you will be asked about your medical history and complete physical or cognitive -- related to thinking or reasoning -- exams.

You will have to meet two types of eligibility criteria to join a trial. Inclusion criteria describes the conditions or characteristics you must have to participate. Exclusion criteria refers to the conditions or characteristics that would prevent you from participating. Both inclusion and exclusion criteria are often related to:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Type and stage of disease
  • Existing medical conditions
  • Previous or current medications

For example, a study testing the effectiveness of a new drug for diabetes in older patients might be limited to people who are diabetic and age 65 years and older. You might also be excluded from a trial because a drug you are currently taking could interfere with the treatment being tested.