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A randomized control trial (RCT) is a scientific procedure most commonly used in testing medicines or medical procedures. It is a trial that uses randomized control. This is considered the most reliable form of scientific evidence because it eliminates all forms of cognitive bias. The basic idea is that treatments are allocated to subjects at random. This ensures that the different treatment groups are 'statistically equivalent'.
Sellers of medicines throughout the ages have had to convince their consumers that the medicine works. As science has progressed, public expectations have risen, and government health budgets have become ever tighter, pressure has grown for a reliable system to do this. Moreover, the public's concern for the dangers of medical interventions has spurred both legislators and administrators to provide an evidential basis for licensing or paying for new procedures and medications. In the United States, new medicines must undergo trials to earn FDA approval. Such trials are typically sponsored by the manufacturer and progress from smaller phase I and II studies designed to establish side effects and optimal dose to larger phase III studies designed to establish efficacy against placebo or against an existing drug.
In contrast, RCTs in Hopkins GIM focus not on industry-sponsored tests of new drugs, but rather on NIH-funded tests of (a) behavioral interventions, (b) health care interventions, (c) dietary modifications, (d) low-cost minerals or food supplements, or (e) comparative efficacy between drugs already on the market.