What are Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials are a type of research which involves people and tests health-related such as a drug, a procedure, a device, or a change to someone’s diet or lifestyle. Clinical trials often answer questions like: Is the intervention safe? Does the intervention improve or cure disease, or help people live longer with disease than other treatments? Does the intervention help people feel better? They are carefully designed, usually by a group of researchers, doctors, scientists, statisticians, sponsors, and patients and/or caregivers, to make sure that risks to trial participants are minimized.

In the video below, Dr. An-Wen Chan, MD DPhil (Oxon) FRCPC; Phelan Senior Scientist, Women’s College Research Institute at Women’s College Hospital; Professor, Dept of Medicine, University of Toronto, provides a general overview of clinical trials.

This video is also available with French subtitles here.

Looking to learn more about clinical trials?

CTO’s Learn About Clinical Trials page walks you through the entire process of participating in a clinical trial. The information, available in both French and English, is intended to help people make informed decisions about clinical trials and reflect what we have learned form clinical trial participants, patient organizations and health charities.


#TalkClinicalTrials is a campaign led by CTO with the a goal of building awareness around clinical trials. Why? Because clinical trials matter to all of us. They help to generate better treatments and technologies and ultimately help shape the future of medicine. Explore more stories from the series and join the conversation on social media using #TalkClinicalTrials.