The terms research study, clinical trial, and experiment are all used to describe medical research. Each of these terms refers to an organized way to learn more about health in general, and also about better ways to prevent and treat children's diseases in the future.
Many studies involving little or no risk aren't expected to improve the health of those participating. In other studies, some research participants may see improvements in their health due to the experimental treatment. However, this kind of improvement is just a possibility. The specific treatment being tested may or may not end up working better than other available treatments.
Most research studies are designed to answer a question that hasn't been answered yet. Some of the questions investigators have asked include:
* Does a certain medicine cure a disease, or make some of the symptoms go away?
* And can you use one vaccination or shot to provide protection from more than one disease?
Through research studies, we've learned the answers to many such questions. We've learned which treatments are currently most effective for diseases like hemophilia, which affects blood clotting in children and adults. We've also learned that a child can be protected against measles, mumps, and rubella with one shot instead of three.
Medical research involves uncertainties and may have risks. However, research is an important way to help us improve the care and treatment of children everywhere. As you will find out later, there are protections in place to make research studies as safe as possible.