How to participate in a research study

New treatments can’t move forward without volunteers willing to participate in research studies. These studies investigate new disease treatments and medical devices for both safety and effectiveness. New or repurposed investigational treatments must pass all clinical trial phases before they can be approved for distribution, and volunteers are needed at each step of the way. Interested in joining a clinical trial near you? Follow these steps to participate in local or virtual research study opportunities. 

Use a clinical trial search tool to find a clinical trial in your area or online 

Depending on where you live and what the nature of your condition is, there may be several different trials looking for volunteers like you in your area. When you use a clinical trial search tool, you can narrow your options to find the best fit.

These tips can help you find a trial that’s right for you:

  • Figure out how far you would be willing to travel for a clinical trial. Under an hour? Across state lines? Depending on where you live, there may be trials right in your neighborhood or in the nearest big city. Some trials offer compensation for travel expenses. You can also see if any virtual trials are available. 
  • Answer a few questions about your medical history to find trials that are specific to you. Different trials have different requirements for participation, which is how researchers are able to figure out exactly what treatments work for what types of patients. When you use a tool like Antidote Match, you’ll be asked questions about your age, your diagnosis, and other conditions you may have. 
  • When you get your results, click into a trial to learn more about important details: What phase is the trial in? What kind of potential new treatment will the trial be investigating? Who is the trial sponsor? Take a close look at the study’s inclusion and exclusion criteria (medical information that researchers will use to determine whether or not you may qualify for the trial) to make sure you fit the bill. Since you’ve already answered a few questions about your health, the trial should be a fairly close match for you.
  • Learn about the logistics of participating in the study. In some study descriptions, you can also see whether or not the trial requires overnight stays, if you’ll be compensated for travel, and if the trial will be using a placebo. These are important pieces of information when you’re considering taking part in a trial. 

Talk about the study with your doctor(s)

It’s important to speak with your primary care physician and/or specialists before joining a clinical trial, especially if it will interfere with your current treatment regimens. Print out the study description or save it on your phone to bring to your next appointment with your doctor. Go over the study and discuss potential benefits and risks of participating. Your doctor can also help you think of questions to ask the research team as you make your decision to participate or not. Before you sign on, you are encouraged to ask the study team as many questions as you would like.

Contact the researcher running the trial that sounds like the best match for you

When you find a clinical trial that you would like to hear more about, contact the researcher listed in your study result by email or phone. The research team will have more questions to learn more about you. If it sounds like you may qualify, you’ll potentially be invited to the study site, where you’ll answer additional questions. If the trial has become virtual due to a major public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s possible that sponsors will set up alternatives to physically visiting a site. They might, for example, arrange for a mobile blood draw or a physical examination in your home.

Learn about signing an informed consent form

If researchers determine that you qualify for the study, your next step is to sign an informed consent form. The trial team will take you through details about the trial, including its purpose, how long the trial will run, the trial’s general schedule, expectations for participants, and risks and benefits. This is a great time to ask that list of questions you’ve prepared. 

If you decide to participate, you will sign the informed consent form that includes the details the research team shared with you. Even after you sign the form, you can still leave the study at any time.

Ready to start searching for a clinical trial? Click the “Match me” button below to search for local clinical trial opportunities.