Clinical Trials FAQ Skip To Content

Learn More about Clinical Trials at Sanford Health

By participating in research studies, our physicians can provide cutting-edge treatments and advanced care to patients in our communities. This means patients have increased and improved treatment options, as well as better overall patient care.

What is a research study?

A research study, or clinical trial, is a scientific research study in which patients help doctors find ways to improve standard treatments and a patients' quality of life. Carefully conducted research studies are the fastest and safest way to find new treatments and improve the health of all patients. Simply stated: Today's gold-standard of care was yesterday's research study.

What type of research studies are available?

  • Treatment studies to improve the standard of care.
  • Prevention studies to look for better ways to prevent disease.
  • Diagnostic and screening studies designed to find better ways to detect disease.
  • Quality of life studies, which explore ways to improve comfort and quality of life for patients.

Who can participate?

Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements may participate in a research study. The eligibility requirements indicate the study's purpose and characteristics of the people who should participate. Eligibility requirements may include age, gender, health and risk factors. Patients involved in clinical research are volunteers and may change their mind or leave the study at any time. Patients are informed of all the risks and benefits of taking part in the study as well as details regarding the treatments and tests to be provided.

Why should I participate?

Choosing to participate in a research study is an important personal decision. People who participate in clinical trials:

  • Have access to promising new treatments that may not be available to the public
  • Play an active role in their own healthcare
  • Assist researchers and physicians in finding a cure
  • Help find new treatments to improve the quality of life for everyone with a specific disease
  • Participants often receive more attention than routine care allows

What is a placebo?

A placebo is used in clinical research when researchers seek to prove the addition of a new treatment regimen to the standard of care is more effective than standard of care only. One way they do this is to provide all participants standard of care plus the new treatment OR standard of care plus a placebo. The purpose is to see if the standard of care plus the new treatment is more effective than the standard of care plus placebo.

When it comes to treatment, everyone, without exception, is always offered the best practice standard of care. For example, if you have cancer and seek treatment at Sanford Health, you will receive the best available and most advanced cancer therapy in our region. This does not change when patients volunteer to participate in clinical research studies. You do not have to fear receiving a "sugar pill" (or placebo) instead of the best practice standard of care.

Either way, as a patient you receive the best practice standard of care. And should the clinical study contain a placebo, we are required by law to inform you prior to volunteering.

Whom do I contact if I would like to learn more?

For more information on Sanford Health's clinical research studies, call or email Bemidji Clinical Research at (218) 333-4869, Bismarck Clinical Research at (701) 323-5760, Fargo and Bemidji Clinical Research at (701) 234-5890; and Sioux Falls Clinical Research at (605) 328-1368. You can also learn more by visiting, which is a comprehensive national registry of all clinical trials.