How to find research studies near you and frequently asked questions about participating in a clinical trial

Clinical research studies around the United States are in need of participants to learn more about various conditions. For those interested in learning how to take part in research, finding clinical trials that might be a fit can be simple — by answering a few questions about your location and medical history, you can see all the active trials you may be eligible for.

Common conditions that need clinical trial volunteers

There are many trials that are taking place all the time, from those studying rare diseases to others researching new treatments for common conditions. Below, you can see some of the most common disease areas that are often in need of volunteers.

How to participate in clinical trials

If you don’t see what you’re looking for on the list above, finding clinical trials is easy when you use Antidote’s clinical trial Match tool to search for studies for any condition. Once you find a clinical trial and determine that you meet the eligibility criteria, you can select a research site that is convenient for you and view the next steps for screening and enrollment.

Frequently asked questions about joining research studies

In addition to learning how to participate in clinical trials, it is also important to learn what to expect if you plan to enroll. We often get questions from potential participants, so we’ve listed them out here in one convenient guide.

What is the goal of a clinical research study? Every clinical trial will have a unique and specific goal, but as a whole, research studies are aimed at the evaluation of potential new treatments. Clinical trials assess both the safety and efficacy of potential therapies, which is required before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will approve a medication or treatment for a patient population. 

What are the potential benefits of joining a research study? Volunteering for a research study can provide the opportunity to gain access to potential new treatments, receive care from experts in the field, advance the progression of scientific study, and potentially help future patients with the same condition. Some studies will also provide compensation for your participation, and will often reimburse any costs incurred for travel.

Are there risks associated with participating? Clinical trials aim to evaluate whether a potential new treatment is safe and effective for a patient population. Because many research studies are evaluating medication, there is a risk that the drug will not work for you or may lead to side effects.

Do all clinical trials use placebos? Placebos are not always used in research studies, as some clinical trials will measure the effectiveness of a potential new treatment against the standard treatment that has already been approved. If a trial does use a placebo against a study drug and the study drug is found to be effective, all research volunteers will be given access to the treatment.

What do the phases of clinical trials mean? There are four clinical trial phases that every drug must go through before it can be used in the wider patient population. The typical clinical trials timeline looks like this:

  • Phase I: In the first phase, a trial will enroll 20 to 100 volunteers to participate for several months. This phase is designed to measure just safety, not the effectiveness of the treatment, so researchers mainly focus on side effects and potential issues. 
  • Phase II: Approximately 70% of potential new treatments will advance to Phase 2, which is designed to measure both safety and efficacy. Phase 2 trials typically recruit several hundred patients with the condition to participate, and it is a process that can last several months or several years.
  • Phase III: Just 33% of drugs graduate to Phase 3, which is the phase that requires the largest pool of participants to measure a potential treatment’s safety and efficacy. Phase 3 trials can require volunteers in the thousands and last from one to four years.
  • FDA approval: Once Phase 3 is completed, the manufacturer may submit a New Drug Application (NDA) or a biologics license application (BLA) for the treatment to the FDA. The FDA will review the information gained at each stage of the trial to determine if the pharmaceutical company can release the treatment to the public.
  • Phase 4: This phase, also called “Post-Approval Research and Monitoring,” takes place if a manufacturer wants to continue monitoring patients after FDA approval. This can give the pharmaceutical company valuable insight into a treatment’s long-term impact and how it compares to any previously approved treatment options already on the market.

As we saw with the fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccines, it is possible for a drug to receive an Emergency Use Authorization, which is a mechanism that allows medical manufacturers to operate on a speedier timeline while still adhering to strict rules and regulations surrounding clinical trial protocols.

What protections are in place for trial volunteers? For clinical trial volunteers, there are several protections in place to make sure they stay safe as they participate in research. Before a trial is able to begin, its protocol must be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to make sure it’s protecting patient rights and operating ethically. Additionally, the FDA has strict standards regarding the oversight required to run a clinical trial and ensures that trial sponsors have protections in place for participants. One of the most important elements of this is the informed consent form, which outlines relevant details about the trial. The study team will also answer any questions participants have about the trial, and patients are free to withdraw from a trial for any reason at any time. 

Ready to start searching for a trial in your area? Click below to answer a few questions and get started.