Are you thinking about participating in a medical research study, but need more information before doing so? Looking to take part in a research study or trial can be daunting – especially if you are unsure of what you are testing. In this article, we will be looking at all the things you should consider before volunteering for one.
What are Medical Research Studies & Trials?
A medical research study or clinical trial can also commonly be referred to as a clinical trial. These studies are performed on volunteers with the aim to evaluate a medical, surgical, or behavioural intervention. Typically, when a new treatment, drug, diet, or even medical device comes out, it will need to be evaluated in order to assure that it is both safe and effective in people – and this is where medical trials come in. Whilst these studies can be conducted in a variety of ways, most commonly, the medical professionals will be looking for how effective these advances are and what are the side effects.
How Do You Become a Medical Research Volunteer?
How to take part in a medical trial or study is dependent on the company or organisation that is offering. Typically, before every trial begins, more information will be provided. Again, how much information you are given, is dependent on what type of trial is being held. For example, a blind trial is where the individuals taking part do not know which treatment they are getting, and therefore, not much data surrounding the product is provided during the study.
Whilst, as an individual, you may not be given much information, each organisation running a medical study will work with a variety of people such as medical professionals, scientists, and investigators to ensure that the trial is safe and that the best results can be provided.
It is also important to note that even if you have an illness, and the reason for taking part in a medical research study is to help find a cure or improve on this, you are still considered a volunteer and will therefore have to go through the same process as well as being given the same treatment and rights.
What Are The Potential Benefits of Participating?
Taking part in a medical study can be extremely exciting as well as include many potential benefits. Firstly, you could be at the front of the line to try out some cutting technology or drug, which has not yet been released to the world. Whilst there are still risks to consider, especially whether you want to personally participate in something which is not quite known, this could also be a remarkably interesting prospect.
Another benefit could be if you are currently suffering from something that has been deemed ‘incurable’ or does not have that much research completed around it. Medical trials can be used to learn more about more obscure illnesses or diseases. If you find a research program that is about your own personal ailment, then participating in the study could mean that you can gather more information about it. Furthermore, as you will be consulting with physicians and nurses, you will also have close medical monitoring of your condition, which may not be offered to you on a regular basis.
Finally, many people take part in studies because they have the potential to improve their overall health. With no additional cost to the volunteer themselves, they can gain more knowledge surrounding general health and wellbeing.
What Rights Do Medical Volunteers Have?
Similar to many other volunteering roles, medical volunteers have a right when it comes to giving their time. A good example of this is expenses. Again, like many volunteering positions, a volunteer should be not left out of pocket to contribute to a medical study. They are able to claim expenses such as meals and transport, or whatever else they may need to be able to take part.
Another right that medical volunteers have relates to consent. Direct consent from the volunteer themselves must be given in order to participate in a medical trial. Typically, this is done by a form, whether that be hand-written or via email.
Before taking part in a medical trial or study, we recommend asking a few questions to ensure that it is the correct route for you, sp[ecifically questions such as:
- What is the time commitment for this study?
- What safeguards, or other health and safety aspects have been built into this trial?
- Will the results of this trial be provided to me?
Volunteering comes in many guises and considering participating in a medical research study is definitely a worthwhile option for some people!