Clinical trials vs. clinical studies: What’s the difference?

Clinical trials and clinical studies are both terms that can come up in conversations about clinical research. While they might seem similar on the surface, they do have some important distinctions. 

Clinical trials involve some sort of intervention—such as the use of medicine or surgery—to study its safety and effectiveness.

Clinical studies is a broader term that encompasses clinical trials. There are different types of clinical studies: some may involve an intervention (i.e., a clinical trial), while others will not involve an intervention and instead monitor people and their health in an unaltered setting (an observational study).