Clinical trials & medical research

Withdrawing from a trial

It is important that young people know they are free to leave a trial at any time and without giving a reason. It may help them feel more confident to take part in the first place, if they know they can always drop out. Young people we talked to remembered that this was made clear to them and they never felt any pressure to continue.
One young person we talked to decided to withdraw from a trial. Courtney, aged 12 years, took part in a trial involving growth hormone treatment when she was aged six, but she disliked having daily injections, and after five years withdrew from the trial. She would consider other similar trials in the future and thinks it is good young people take part in trials to help others with similar conditions.
Sometimes being part of a trial involves quite a time commitment, for example, attending extra appointments, travelling to and from hospital, taking time off school, or spending time being interviewed or completing questionnaires.
Some young people talked about thinking whether they should withdraw but then deciding to continue - for various reasons.
Alexander was concerned about the side effects of the trial drug, but also about missing school and his exams.
For some young people, taking part in a trial means giving your full commitment, but having the option to withdraw is reassuring. (See also ‘Being invited to take part in a trial: information and questions’ and ‘Deciding not to take part although eligible to take part in a trial’.) 
If you experience side effects you may have to withdraw – your health is always the top priority 
Dr William van’t Hoff, and Helena, a health professional, explain some of the issues around consent and assent for young people when they are aged 15 years and younger and 16 years and over. 

Last reviewed March 2017.
Last updated July 2014.


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