Clinical research aims to advance medical knowledge by studying people, either through direct interaction or through the collection and analysis of blood, tissues, or other samples.
A clinical trial involves research participants. It follows a pre-defined plan or protocol to evaluate the effects of a medical or behavioral intervention on health outcomes. By taking part in clinical trials, participants not only play a more active role in their own health care, but they also can access experimental treatments and help others by contributing to medical research.
The NIH Clinical Research Trials and You website provides more information on NIH-supported clinical research, including information for volunteers, parents and children, health care providers, and researchers.
Clinical researchers: NIH is launching a series of initiatives to enhance the accountability and transparency of clinical research. For information on the changes and how they will affect applicants and funded investigators, visit the Clinical Trial Requirements for Grants and Contracts section of the NIH website. If you are conducting research with human subjects, we strongly recommend you review the updates and changes on the OER website, including the information on Basic Experimental Studies Involving Humans, to determine if they apply to your work.
NIH maintains the ClinicalTrials.gov website as the main database of publicly and privately funded clinical trials. Each trial has its own pre-defined research plan or protocol, a specific goal or goals, and specific requirements for eligibility. The database includes studies that are looking for participants, in progress but not looking for participants, stopped, and completed.
NICHD requires that all of its clinical studies be included in the NIH clinical trials database. The NICHD clinical trials link lists all NICHD studies on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.
Although NICHD is involved with clinical research, the institute does not issue clinical care recommendations, practice guidelines, or other guidance related to patient care.
Instead, the institute supports and conducts research on which other groups, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, base their recommendations.
Because issuing such guidance falls outside of the NICHD research mission, this website does not include clinical care recommendations or related information. This type of information is available through the websites of the professional societies and other organizations that handle care guidance on specific health topics.
Please note that the titles of some protocols and guidelines include "NICHD" even though they were not issued by NICHD. This error is common among older items that were published by former institute staff, or that resulted from institute-sponsored research conferences. They are not NICHD recommendations despite using the institute name or abbreviation in the title.