Choosing to Participate

If you are interested, you need to learn as much as possible about the trial, as well as what the potential benefits and risks might be. When you talk with your doctor or members of the research team, take a friend or family member with you. Write down a list of questions in advance, and either write down the answers as you get them or ask to record your conversation. 

Potential benefits to participating include having access to new drugs and interventions before they become widely available. In addition to the care provided by your own doctor, you would be closely monitored by an entire research team. You would also make a valuable contribution to research.

Potential risks of participating in a clinical trial include facing side effects or risks not yet discovered. Also, even if a new approach helps others, it may not work for you. And clinical trials are often considered “experimental” by insurance companies that may not pay for all or any of the care.

Informed Consent

If you are eligible and choose to participate in a clinical trial, you will go through a process called “informed consent.” As part of this process, you will be given all the facts about a trial before you make a final decision to participate. You have every right (and need to use that right) to ask as many questions as you have, as many times as you need in order to fully understand important details of a research study. This includes:

  • Why the research is being done
  • What the researchers hope to accomplish
  • What evidence exists that the treatment, drug or medical device will work
  • What will be done during the study – and for how long
  • What risks are involved
  • What benefits can be expected from the study
  • What other treatments are available
  • Who has access to health information during a study

If you agree to take part in a trial, you will be asked to sign an “informed consent” form. Participating in a clinical trial is a strictly voluntary process. Signing the informed consent form does not commit you to completing the study. In any clinical trial, you may stop participating at any time, for any reason, without any prejudice.