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Common Concerns with Participating in a Research Study

If I volunteer for a study, will I definitely be able to participate?

Every trial has eligibility criteria that are used to make sure participants are suited to the study. A basic list of eligibility criteria is provided, but there may be other factors to consider. The study team may ask you additional questions to make sure the study is right for you. Even if it’s not, you may be eligible for other studies.

I am basically healthy, but I have a minor health condition that is under control. Does this mean I can’t be a healthy volunteer?

It’s common for older people to have some health issues, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be a healthy volunteer, depending on the study. For example, if you have high blood pressure that is kept under control with medication, you may be eligible to participate in studies that need healthy volunteers.

I would like to participate in clinical research but transportation is an issue for me.

We go out of our way to make it as convenient as possible to participate in clinical research. Garages are available and sometimes valet parking is an option. Some studies will be able to provide transportation to and from the study site.

Even though I’m retired, it would be difficult to participate because I take care of my grandchildren.

The study team is often able accommodate your needs and schedule. Questions related to the study can often be handled over the phone and Saturday appointments are often available.

I’m worried about safety. What happens if I become ill due to side effects from medication given during a clinical trial?

Most clinical research is regulated by the federal government with built-in safeguards to protect participants. For example, every clinical trial in the United States must be approved and monitored by an independent committee of physicians, community advocates, and others to make sure the rights of study participants are protected. This committee ensures that the risks are as low as possible and that potential benefits are worthwhile. All trials also follow a carefully monitored study plan that details what researchers will do during the study.

Before beginning the study, you will undergo a thorough screening to make sure you are healthy enough to participate safely. The study team will provide you with instructions to follow if you suffer from side effects, including how to contact them at any time. They will encourage you to call if you have any questions or concerns regarding treatment administered as part of the study.

I’m concerned about privacy and confidentiality.

The ethical and legal codes that govern medical practice also apply to clinical trials. The same measures that are in place to protect your privacy and confidentiality when you visit your doctor apply to clinical research. As a clinical trial progresses, researchers report the results of the trial at scientific meetings, to medical journals, and to various government agencies. Individual participant’s names remain secret and are not mentioned in these reports.

If I participate in a clinical trial, can I still go to my regular doctor?

The medical care you receive as part of a research study is in addition to the medical care provided by the physicians you normally see. You are not replacing your doctor by participating in a research study.

I’m too sick to be in a clinical trial.

Whether you’re sick or well, we’re interested in your experiences.

I’m too healthy to be in a clinical trial.

Whether you’re sick or well, we’re interested in your experiences. Even if you’re not sick, you may be able to participate in research aimed at improving the quality of life for older people.