To make sure we find the best treatment for a condition, it is important that we compare any potential new treatment with the current ‘gold standard’ of care. If this is done in a controlled way it allows us to determine whether the new treatment is less good, the same as, or better than the standard treatment. Unless we do this, we would not know how ‘good’ one treatment is in comparison to another and there would be no consistency in treatments.
Randomised controlled trials are the best way of comparing 2 treatments because any potential ‘outside’ factors which may affect results are accounted for, allowing us to see the true effect of the treatments where possible. ‘Randomised’ means that patients who take part in the study will have one of the treatment options selected for them by a computer. Neither the doctor nor the patient has any control over which treatment will be selected, but over the course of a trial, an equal number of patients will be selected to receive each treatment option.