Does your human subjects research study meet the NIH Definition of a clinical trial?

The NIH definition of a clinical trial is very broad. Some investigators conducting human subjects research may not be aware that NIH considers their study to be a clinical trial. Use this tool to help determine if your research meets the NIH definition of a clinical trial.

For application due dates on/after January 25, 2018, identifying whether your study is a clinical trial will be important for:

  • picking the right NIH funding opportunity
  • ensuring your application includes all the information required for peer review
  • complying with the appropriate policies and regulations

NIH Definition of a Clinical Trial

A research study in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned prospectively assigned The term "prospectively assigned" refers to a pre-defined process (e.g., randomization) specified in an approved protocol that stipulates the assignment of research subjects (individually or in clusters) to one or more arms (e.g., intervention, placebo, or other control) of a clinical trial. to one or more interventions interventionsAn "intervention" is defined as a manipulation of the subject or subject's environment for the purpose of modifying one or more health-related biomedical or behavioral processes and/or endpoints. Examples include: drugs/small molecules/compounds; biologics; devices; procedures (e.g., surgical techniques); delivery systems (e.g., telemedicine, face-to-face interviews); strategies to change health-related behavior (e.g., diet, cognitive therapy, exercise, development of new habits); treatment strategies; prevention strategies; and, diagnostic strategies. (which may include placebo or other control) to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health-related biomedical or behavioral outcomes. health-related biomedical or behavioral outcomes.A "health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome" is defined as the pre-specified goal(s) or condition(s) that reflect the effect of one or more interventions on human subjects' biomedical or behavioral status or quality of life. Examples include: positive or negative changes to physiological or biological parameters (e.g., improvement of lung capacity, gene expression); positive or negative changes to psychological or neurodevelopmental parameters (e.g., mood management intervention for smokers; reading comprehension and /or information retention); positive or negative changes to disease processes; positive or negative changes to health-related behaviors; and, positive or negative changes to quality of life. Learn more

Answer a few simple questions below to help determine if your study is a clinical trial

Note for ancillary studies:
When answering the following questions, take into account only the work being proposed in the ancillary study, not the work being done in the parent project.

1. Does the study involve human participants?

Unsure how to respond? Our case studies and FAQs may help you decide.