ClinicalTrials.gov User Guide
If you are a patient, caregiver, or physician looking for investigational therapy options available through either clinical trials or expanded access, you can begin to research and identify them on ClinicalTrials.gov.
Clinical trials give patients an opportunity to receive an investigational therapy for the purpose of research to determine if the therapy is safe and effective. Whether you know just the condition that requires treatment, or you know both the condition and the investigational therapy you would like to access, you can use ClinicalTrials.gov to learn more about what investigational interventions are being studied, whether clinical trials are open and available for enrollment, and the eligibility criteria. You may also find whether expanded access is available for the therapy and contact information where you can obtain additional information.
This user guide will take you through the process of using ClinicalTrials.gov website for the following:
- Researching products in development based on a patient’s condition
- Finding open clinical trials
- Finding expanded access programs (EAPs)
- Finding single-patient expanded access
How to Use ClinicalTrials.gov to Research Products in Development
Conducting a Search
Use the ClinicalTrials.gov search function to start researching new investigational therapies. For example, if the patient has lung cancer, you can use a ClinicalTrials.gov search to find investigational therapies intended to treat specific types of lung cancer.
If you are conducting initial research of investigational therapies or know only the patient’s condition, you may want to consider using the search feature on the homepage of ClinicalTrials.gov to receive a range of information on possible treatments.
Populate the fields that apply to your search, like the name of the condition or disease, name of a specific treatment, or location (start with selecting country, then more choices will appear and you'll have the option to add details like distance from a particular city). Filling more fields will narrow your search results. For example, if the patient has breast cancer and is looking for radiation treatments, completing these fields in the search form will only result in study records that meet both criteria. You can also expand or narrow search results by using capitalized operators such as AND, OR, and NOT to relate terms.
Modifying a Search
Once you have populated the fields that apply to your search and submitted the query you will be driven to the Search Results page. To refine or update your current search query, select “Modify Search” and populate the Modify Search fields. To start a new search, select “Start Over.”
The advanced search feature allows patients, caregivers, and physicians to focus their results even further with additional criteria like recruitment status, location, eligibility information, and study type. For example (shown in the image below), if you would only like to receive study records for therapies for breast cancer in women age 66 and older, then use the advanced search to fill these fields and find results specific to these criteria.
To access this search, select “Advanced Search” on the homepage or from the Find Studies menu. You do not need to fill every field on the advanced search feature, but the more fields entered, the narrower your search results become. If a limited number of studies appear, consider removing one or more of the search fields to broaden results.
Browse Studies by Topic or Location
ClinicalTrials.gov also allows users to browse information on studies organized by topics such as condition, treatment intervention, sponsor/collaborator, location, and more. Select “See Studies by Topic” under the Find Studies menu to access this feature. For example, to find all the studies available for esophageal cancer, visit the See Studies by Topic page and select the “Rare Diseases” topic. Enter esophageal cancer in the “Find in Table” box or scroll through the list to find the disease and click the esophageal cancer link. This will populate all the studies specific only to esophageal cancer. Continue reading to learn more on how to filter search results to find the studies that are most appropriate for the patient’s condition.
Filtering Search Results
Once you have completed a search, you will be presented with a list of studies. Studies that are most relevant to the search terms will appear at the top of the results page. The Search Results page will show the name of the study and its status (e.g. active, completed, recruiting, etc.), conditions or diseases it addresses, and interventions.
Depending on how narrow your search terms are, your list may provide many study records. To find the studies best suited for the patient, use the ClinicalTrials.gov Filters feature in the panel on the left side or click on the “Show Filters” button. You can filter studies by recruitment status, expanded access availability, eligibility criteria, and more. Select any additional categories to narrow your search, then select “Apply” to update results. Along the top of the results page, you can also use the tabs to view the search results by topic, location, and related search details.
Selecting a Study
Once you have applied filters, the list of studies will decrease. Click on the “Study Title” for more information regarding the study.
A page of information pertaining to the intervention, purpose of the investigational product, eligibility, study results, and contact information for the trial organizers will be provided. Select the “Go To” down arrow to skip to different sections of the record. Select “Return to List” at the top of the page to go back to viewing the full list of study records based on your search query.
Each study record includes a listing of key dates for related milestones. Select the “Key Record Dates” link in the More Information section at the bottom of the page to view when registration and results were submitted on ClinicalTrials.gov.
If applicable, select the “Results Submitted” tab to access a study’s results information. If a study sponsor or investigator has not yet submitted information, the tab will be labeled “No Results Posted” and will feature a table of key dates.
If you have found studies you wish to save under your search results, click the “Saved” box beside the study on the “search results” page. This will allow you to later revisit the information you found. To access saved studies, click of “Saved Studies” located in the upper right section of any page.
Glossary of Terms
The Glossary feature allows you to define certain terms as they appear on a page. Select the Information icon (“i” in a blue circle) next to a term to open the definition. To find definitions for other terms found on the page, type in the term in the search box found in the glossary panel. Click the “x” in the search box in the glossary panel to view a full glossary list of common site terms.
How to Use ClinicalTrials.gov to Find Active Clinical Trials Recruiting Patients
Once you have identified an appropriate investigational therapy by using the “Intervention/Treatment” search field (or by returning to your saved searches), you can use ClinicalTrials.gov to determine whether there are any ongoing clinical trials enrolling patients, for which you or your patient may be eligible. To find open clinical trials, select “Recruiting” under “Recruiting Status” (in the left panel on your search results page). You can also use the homepage Search feature to filter for recruiting study records by selecting “Recruiting and Not Yet Recruiting Studies” under the Recruitment Status option. Your results will then narrow to those studies that are currently recruiting participants. Select “Apply” at the top or bottom of the menu to update your search results.
You may also want to use the other filters available in this menu to learn more about the status of the study. The organizers of the trial will provide a point of contact for additional information about the trial(s). You will also be able to see where the trial is being conducted, to determine if traveling is feasible for you.
How to Use ClinicalTrials.gov To Find an Expanded Access Program (EAP)
You, or your patient, may be ineligible for, or unable to participate in a clinical trial. Or, all the relevant clinical trials may have completed enrollment or be finished. It is still possible that an investigational product is available through established expanded access from single-patient to intermediate size or large programs.
In the same left panel on your Search Results page (“Filters”) where you found “Recruitment Status” (which you use to determine if a clinical trial is active and recruiting patients), you will see an option for “Expanded Access.” To find out if the company is making the investigational product available through expanded access, select the plus option next to “Expanded Access” to see the full set of options, and choose “Available.” Select “Apply” at the top of the menu to update your search results.
How to Use ClinicalTrials.gov To Find Single-Patient Expanded Access
Because of a new requirement for listing expanded access information on ClinicalTrials.gov, some listings will include information on whether the investigational drug product may be available through single-patient expanded access. You can find more details about such access here or you can use the point of contact located within a study record.
If no expanded access is listed, it does not necessarily mean the drug sponsor is unwilling to entertain a request for access. You or your doctor may contact the sponsor to discuss the possibility of individual access.