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Information on "Participating in Clinical Trials" Now Available on


For Immediate Release
Friday, January 4, 2008

Kathy Cravedi, NLM

What is a clinical trial and how does it work? What are the benefits and the risks? If you are an older adult, should you consider participating in a clinical trial? These and many other questions are addressed in "Participating in Clinical Trials", a new topic just added to NIHSeniorHealth (, a Web site developed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), both components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"The new clinical trials topic on NIHSeniorHealth will help older adults understand this vital area of medical research," says Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., NLM director. "Older adults who log on to will find information to help them make informed decisions, including questions they should ask and the answers they should look for if they are thinking of joining a trial."

Developed by the National Library of Medicine, "Participating in Clinical Trials" is the latest addition to NIHSeniorHealth's roster of 33 topics targeting the health interests of older adults.

The new topic explains basic terms, the types and phases of trials, the informed consent process and the benefits, risks, and built-in safeguards for trial participants.

"Clinical trials are a critical part of medical research," says Richard J. Hodes, M.D., NIA director. "The risk of many diseases and conditions increases with age, and it is important that clinical trials include older participants, who can help researchers find out if a drug, therapy, lifestyle change, device or medical test is safe and effective in the older population."

One of the fastest growing age groups using the Internet, older Americans increasingly turn to the Internet for health information. In fact, 68 percent of "wired" seniors surf for health and medical information when they go online. NIHSeniorHealth, which is based on the latest research on cognition and aging, features short, easy-to-read segments of information that can be accessed in a variety of formats, including large-print type sizes, open-captioned videos and even an audio version. Additional topics coming soon to the site include Parkinson's disease, nutrition, and high blood cholesterol. The site links to MedlinePlus, NLM's premier, more detailed site for consumer health information.

Information about federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the U.S. and around the world is available at

The NLM, the world's largest library of the health sciences, creates and sponsors Web-based health information resources for the public and professionals.

The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well being of older people. Both are components of the NIH in Bethesda, MD.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) - The Nation's Medical Research Agency - is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit