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Your most common questions about research are answered by F. Xavier Castellanos, M.D., Brooke and Daniel Neidich Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Professor of Radiology, Physiology and Neuroscience; Director, Center for Neurodevelopmental Disorders; Senior Research Scientist, Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research.

Q: What is a clinical trial?

A: A clinical trial is a type of research that is used to determine the potential benefits and risks of new medical treatments.

Research consists of systematic observations designed to give us reliable
information about a particular condition that affects children, adolescents
and adults. Research studies are crucial to allow us to better understand
what treatment options are most effective, and what the potential benefits
and side effects may be.

Q: Why is research important?

A: Research is the only dependable way to build on what we know and improve what we can do to treat mental health problems.

Every important advance that has been made in medicine is based on evidence
and data gathered from research. Advances range from recent studies that
have shown that simple aspirin is effective in decreasing heart attacks to
a study that found that estrogen replacement therapy for women may have risks
that outweigh the overall benefits.

Q: Why should I have my child participate in research?

A: Participating in research allows for advances in science which could lead to new scientific discoveries, and new, more effective treatments. By participating you are assisting in an irreplaceable, essential process that advances scientific knowledge; without patients for research studies these advances would not be possible.

Q: But isn't research risky? I am not sure I want my child to be involved.

A: By definition, research studies focus on areas in which we still don't know enough. Because of that, all research studies have to go through an extremely rigorous review process by a committee whose only function is to protect participants and to make sure all risks are minimized as much as possible. Participants in research studies are informed of all known risks as well as of potential benefits. It is only after participants are fully informed that real consent to participate can be given. In the case of children, parents are provided all the information that is available at the time so that they can make an informed decision about whether to have their child participate. They are also assured that if any new information emerges later that might affect their willingness to have their child continue to participate, they will be so informed. Finally, all research participants are always free to stop their participation at any time.