Let's Talk Medicine

The ‘myth’ of the clinical trial guinea pig

By Dr Jonathan Sheffield / NIHR Clinical Research Network

A common perception of clinical trials is that they are risky – and that those who take part are little more than “guinea pigs”. But in this week’s Scrubbing Up, Dr Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive of the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network says we need to rethink our ideas about clinical trials.


In a national poll in 2012, 82% of the public thought it was important for the NHS to offer opportunities to take part in clinical research, and fewer than 7% said they would never take part. But despite this overall positive view from the public, it is seen as being a risky business – using patients as “human guinea pigs” to test new drugs. So is this image justified?

The first thing to remember is that clinical research is part of what the NHS is all about. Doctors use clinical research studies to compare current treatments with potentially better ones, so that we can keep improving the care we offer NHS patients. Without the evidence that clinical research provides, medicine would never progress.


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This entry was posted on December 11, 2013 by in Research.
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