About Clinical Trials

Who Participates?

People who take part in Clinical Center studies include:

Children and adults wishing to improve their own health. They may be patients with newly diagnosed medical problems. They may have had the problems over a period of time, or they may have a family history of a certain disease.

Healthy volunteers who seek to advance knowledge about causes, progress, and treatment of disease also can participate in clinical research. They provide important medical information to researchers by helping them compare how healthy people differ medically from those who have a specific disease.

To participate, patients and healthy volunteers must meet certain requirements, which are different for each study.

Information for Healthy Volunteers
There are about 300 studies available to healthy volunteers. You can find information on these studies at Search the Studies. (To search for studies accepting healthy volunteers, type in the keywords: 'healthy' and 'normal'.)

Will I be compensated as a healthy volunteer? Yes. NIH compensates volunteers for their time and, in some instances, for the inconvenience of a procedure. There are standard compensation rates for the volunteer's time; the study's principal investigator determines inconvenience rates.

How can I volunteer? If you are considering volunteering, please call 301-496-4763 or 800-892-3276 to talk to a staff member. You will need to come to the CRVP office to register for participation in a study. More information about the Clinical Research Volunteer Program is available at Program for Healthy Volunteers.

What Are the Main Types of Studies?

There are four types of drug studies:

Phase 1 studies test a potential new drug with a small number of volunteers for best dosage and potential side effects.

Phase 2 studies test a drug with known dose and side effects with a larger number of volunteers to learn more about side effects, how the body uses the drug, and how the drug helps the condition.

Phase 3 and 4 studies compare the new drug with a commonly used drug.

Other research may provide only indirect benefit to the patient by giving researchers information that may be an important first step toward developing a treatment. For example, research may show how a disease progresses or how it affects others systems in the body.

Patients can take part in clinical studies covering a wide range of medical diseases, conditions, and rare disorders affecting both children and adults, including those relating to AIDS, aging, alcohol abuse and alcoholism, allergy, cancer, digestive and kidney problems, diabetes, eye disorders, infectious diseases, genetics, mental health, neurological disorders, stroke, and others. There is an online database of current studies.

Making the Decision

It is important that patients be well informed and feel confident and secure about participating. Before deciding to participate, you should talk with your own doctors, family members, and Clinical Center staff. Be sure you know the answers to the following questions before you make your decision:

  • What is the purpose of the study?
  • What is required of me?
  • What is my role in the study—am I a healthy volunteer or a patient volunteer?
  • Will the study directly benefit me?
  • Will the study benefit others?
  • Are there risks? If so, what are they and what are the chances that they will occur?
  • What discomforts are involved?
  • What is the total time involved?
  • Are there other inconveniences?
  • Have I discussed participation in the study with those who are important to me, such as family and friends?
  • Do I wish to participate in this study?

To take part in studies at the Clinical Center, referral by a medical practitioner is preferable. However, in certain instances, self-referral may be appropriate.

Patients and volunteers become partners in a special relationship with members of the research team who are searching for better ways to understand and treat disease. Their participation is critical for improving health today and in future generations. Please call us at 800-411-1222, or email us at prpl@mail.cc.nih.gov with any questions about how you or someone you know might participate.

Adapted from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.

Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08


Last Modified Date: March 21, 2014

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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