Frequently asked questions - clinical trials

If you or a loved one is considering a clinical trial at HonorHealth, find answers to the questions you may have about participation.


Question: Do I have to live in the Phoenix area in order to participate in a clinical trial with HonorHealth?

Answer: That depends on the trial. Many patients do travel from across Arizona, the Southwest and even internationally to participate in a trial. Factors include the number of visits to an HonorHealth facility required for the study and your personal work and family circumstances. For some trials, HonorHealth may offer a small travel stipend to help defray costs. Be sure to inquire when exploring trials.

Question: Does health insurance cover clinical trials?

Answer: Most patients in clinical trials find that they can get at least some coverage from their health insurance plan. Oftentimes, the study pays for the study therapy, and insurance plans will pay for the routine care procedures. The study may also offer small travel stipends for patients traveling from outside Phoenix to receive care. Ask the research team about insurance coverage before entering a trial.

Question: Are clinical trials more expensive than standard treatment?

Answer: National studies have shown that costs for care for patients in trials is comparable to costs for patients receiving standard treatment.

Question: I've heard clinical studies are dangerous. Would I be taking a risk with my health if I signed up for one?

Answer: HonorHealth carefully selects and designs research studies, and all studies must be reviewed by the institutional review board for appropriateness and safety. Studies must meet requirements set by HonorHealth's institutional review board and federal regulations that govern clinical trials.

While you're participating in a clinical trial, you'll be carefully monitored by your HonorHealth research team, including research physicians, nurses and pharmacists.

Question: Are cancer patients given therapies known to be ineffective in a clinical study?

Answer: Clinical trials are designed to test new cancer treatments against established treatments. Offering a placebo as part of a clinical study when there is an established treatment is not ethical nor is it acceptable. The institutional review board ensures that all studies are based on clear ethical and scientific standards. Cancer patients either receive a standard course of therapy or the trial therapy. The patient may not know which medication he or she is receiving.

Question: Aren't clinical trials only for patients who have no other options?

Answer: This depends on the area of research and the design of the research study.

Some clinical studies are dedicated exclusively for patients who have exhausted all of their treatment options. Other clinical studies are designed to improve established treatments.

Question: Does participating in a clinical trial really help me, or will it only help others in the future?

Answer: Clinical trials give patients access to the newest treatment options. Studies have shown that patients in clinical trials have outcomes as good, if not better, than the general patient population.

Question: If I enter a clinical study, can I quit the trial without causing problems for the quality of my treatment?

Answer: You may quit a clinical study for any reason, at any time, and the quality of your care will not be affected. If you decide to withdraw, your care team may request to continue monitoring you for a period to determine any long-term effects of the treatment you received in the study.

Question: Who can tell me whether it's a good idea to participate in a clinical trial or not?

Answer: Participating in a trial is a decision that's ultimately up to you. However, in order to make that decision, it's recommended that you speak with your doctor and clinical trials staff, who can help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of a study.

Question: I'm concerned about the quality of care I'll be receiving if I'm in a trial. Will I be considered just "a number" to researchers?

Answer: At HonorHealth, you're treated with the utmost respect throughout participation in a clinical trial. Researchers are passionate to find better treatment options because they're passionate about helping people. You and your family are part of the team and are involved throughout your treatment.

Question: What is informed consent?

Answer: Informed consent is a process to ensure you understand the clinical study and what is required from you. As part of the consent process, you'll receive a document that details all information related to the study. This document will be provided to you ahead of time to read. In addition to your discussions with your study physician, this document can help you decide whether to participate.