Many advances in medicine wouldn’t have been possible without individuals willing to take part in research. If you’ve been asked to volunteer for a research study, the information on this page can help you make an informed decision. 

Common Questions

What is a Research Study?

A research study is an organized activity to learn more about a problem or answer questions. Many different kinds of studies are conducted. For example:

  • A study may test if a product, such as a drug or equipment, is safe and effective. 
  • A study may be done to find out what education practices work best. 
  • A study may use a survey or an interview to understand needs, problems or feelings people have about an important topic.
  • A study may be done to determine the best way to treat or prevent an illness.

Why Volunteer for a Study?

There are many reasons to take part in research. You may want to:

  • Help scientists find out more about how the human body and mind work
  • Help other people
  • Help find a cure for an illness

If you decide to take part in a research study, you do so as a volunteer. That means you decide whether or not you will take part. If you choose to do so, you have many important rights.

What Are the Benefits?

There may or may not be a direct benefit to you if you participate in a research study. You may get better as a result of your participation, you may stay the same, or you may even get worse. No one can predict the outcome of a research study or how it may affect you. The study may not help you personally, but your taking part may result in information that helps others in the future. 

Are There Risks or Side Effects?

Sometimes research procedures may cause discomfort and side effects. The questions being asked could make you uncomfortable. The risks and side effects of the research may not be known completely when you start the study. The research staff will discuss with you known possible risks so you can decide if you want to volunteer. 

If you do volunteer, the research staff will tell you about any new risks that they learn about during the study for as long as you take part in the study.

Your Rights as a Research Volunteer

  • If anyone asks you to take part in a research study, you have the right to say “no.” 
  • Your decision won’t affect your relationship with the organization conducting the research.
  • You need to weigh both the risks of the study and the benefits.
  • It may be helpful to talk with family, friends or other people you trust.
  • If you decide to take part in a research study, you can change your mind and stop or leave the study at any time without anyone holding it against you.