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Research jargon buster

What is clinical research?

Clinical research involves people participating as volunteers.  Clinical research (sometimes called a trial, study or protocol) is a means of developing new treatments and medications for diseases and conditions. 

There are many terms used in research that can make it seem like a different language, even though the international language of research is English.

Here are some explanations of some of the most commonly used terms:

 Informed Consent

 A process by which a subject voluntarily confirms his or her willingness to participate in a particular trial, having been  informed of all aspects of the trial that are relevant to the subjects (patients) decision to participate


 To be randomly allocated to one of two treatments with equal chances of each treatment being the one you will  receive

 Treatment Arms

 Any of the different treatment groups in a randomised clinical trial


 An inert substance given as a control as an alternative to the drug that the clinical trial is testing

 Inert Substance

 A substance that does nothing to you

 Blinded Study

 A study where the participant does not know what treatment they are receiving to ensure they are not affected by  the placebo effect

 Placebo Effect

 The positive effect on a patient's condition caused by the patient's belief that a treatment will improve their  condition

 Double Blinded

 A study in which both the researcher and the participant do not know the treatment that the participant is receiving


 What the body does to a drug. Different people absorb drugs in different ways. Blood samples can determine how  an individual processes a drug.