Definitions

This is a partial list of important terms in research from the National Library of Medicine. Additional definitions can be found here

An unfavorable change in the health of a participant, including abnormal laboratory findings, that happens during a clinical study or within a certain amount of time after the study has ended. This change may or may not be caused by the intervention/treatment being studied.

A group or subgroup of participants in a clinical trial that receives a specific intervention/treatment, or no intervention, according to the trial's protocol.

A research study involving human volunteers (also called participants) that is intended to add to medical knowledge. There are two types of clinical studies: interventional studies (also called clinical trials) and observational studies.

Another name for an interventional study.

The unique identification code given to each clinical study upon registration at ClinicalTrials.gov. The format is "NCT" followed by an 8-digit number (for example, NCT00000419).

The key requirements that people who want to participate in a clinical study must meet or the characteristics they must have. Eligibility criteria consist of both inclusion criteria (which are required for a person to participate in the study) and exclusion criteria (which prevent a person from participating). Types of eligibility criteria include whether a study accepts healthy volunteers, has age or age group requirements, or is limited by sex.

A way for patients with serious diseases or conditions who cannot participate in a clinical trial to gain access to a medical product that has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Also called compassionate use. There are different expanded access types.

For more information, see FDA Expanded Access: Information for Patients.

An arm type in which a group of participants receives the intervention/treatment that is the focus of the clinical trial.

A group or subgroup of participants in an observational study that is assessed for biomedical or health outcomes.

A type of eligibility criteria. These are the reasons that a person is allowed to participate in a clinical study.

A process used by researchers to communicate to potential and enrolled participants the risks and potential benefits of participating in a clinical study.

For more information, see Participating in Studies.

The document used in the informed consent or process.

A type of clinical study in which participants are identified as belonging to study groups and are assessed for biomedical or health outcomes. Participants may receive diagnostic, therapeutic, or other types of interventions, but the investigator does not assign participants to a specific interventions/treatment.

The stage of a clinical trial studying a drug or biological product, based on definitions developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The phase is based on the study's objective, the number of participants, and other characteristics. There are five phases: Early Phase 1 (formerly listed as Phase 0), Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, and Phase 4. Not Applicable is used to describe trials without FDA-defined phases, including trials of devices or behavioral interventions.

An inactive substance or treatment that looks the same as, and is given in the same way as, an active drug or intervention/treatment being studied.

In a clinical study's protocol, the planned outcome measure that is the most important for evaluating the effect of an intervention/treatment. Most clinical studies have one primary outcome measure, but some have more than one.

The main reason for the clinical trial. The types of primary purpose are: treatment, prevention, diagnostic, supportive care, screening, health services research, basic science, and other.

The person who is responsible for the scientific and technical direction of the entire clinical study.

The written description of a clinical study. It includes the study's objectives, design, and methods. It may also include relevant scientific background and statistical information.

A type of allocation strategy in which participants are assigned to the arms of a clinical trial by chance.

The organization or person who initiates the study and who has authority and control over the study.