Volunteering for research studies: 15 questions to ask

You found a research study that interests you, and you passed the trial’s pre-screening process. Now you’re ready to sign an informed consent form and start the study.

Before you sign on, you can ask the study team as many questions as you would like. Here are some ideas to get you started as you’re evaluating the study and making your decision.

15 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Research Study

1. How long will the study last? Depending on the clinical trial phase, trials can last anywhere from a few months to a few years. Find out how long the study will last, and how often you’ll be expected to come to the study site.

2. What is the goal of the study? Phase I trials test potential new treatments for safety, while Phase II and III continue testing for safety as well as how effective a treatment is. Find out what symptoms the potential treatment aims to address and if there are any other goals of the study.

3. Will I be reimbursed for my expenses? Many research studies will reimburse your travel expenses. Depending on your insurance provider, any health care expenses you accrue during the trial may be covered as well. Cancer.net has a useful guide to clinical trials and insurance coverage on their website.

4. Does the study include a placebo? A placebo is a medication that has no effect. Some clinical trials measure a potential new treatment against a placebo. Others test a new treatment against the existing standard of care.

5. How will I receive the treatment? Find out of the treatment will be given to you orally, through an inhaler, with a needle, etc.

6. Can I continue taking the study drug after the trial if it works for me? Some research studies will allow you to continue taking the study drug after the end of the trial.

7. How will my privacy be protected? This is an important question for many people participating in clinical trials.

8. What can I expect at each study visit? Get a sense from the study team of how much time each study visit will take and what you’ll be doing while you’re there.

Ask the study team how long each visit should take and what tests will be done in your research study.

9. What happens if I leave the study early? Ask about what happens to your care if you decide to end the study before it’s over.

10. What happens if my condition gets worse or I am injured during the trial? It’s important to ask about your personal health and safety before joining a trial.

11. Who will be conducting the study? Ask questions about the background and credentials of the researchers conducting the trial.

12. What did previous studies find out about the treatment? Have the results been published? If you are participating in a Phase II or Phase III study, ask about the results from previous trials. You may be able to read about the studies online if they were published in a journal.

13. What are the potential risks and benefits of the study drug? Ask what effect researchers hope the study drug will have, as well as any side effects that prior trials have already demonstrated.

14. Will I receive follow-up care after the study? Ask any questions you have about what happens after the study is over before signing up.

15. Will the results of the trial be provided to me? Find out how the study team will let participants know about results from the study.