Participating in research
Clinical research uses human volunteers to study the effects of an exposure (for example, a drug or behavior) on a health outcome (for example, blood pressure, symptom relief or improved quality of life). The knowledge we gain through clinical research helps improve the ways we can prevent, diagnose and treat disease.
There are two main types of clinical studies you might be interested in being involved with:
- Clinical trials: These studies examine the effects of an experimental intervention, delivered as part of the trial. Interventions can include new drugs, devices or ways to receive health-care, as well as things like changes in behaviour, such as diet and exercise programs. People in the trial may be assigned to receive the intervention, or not, to compare health outcomes between the people in each group.
- Observational studies: Participating in these studies involves interviews and/or tests. The key difference with clinical trials is that participants in observational studies are not assigned to receive an experimental intervention as part of the study.
There are potential risks and benefits to participating in any kind of research. It is important that you understand both before participating in a research study. This list of questions to ask is meant to help you make the best decision, for you and your family, about participating in research. We suggest that you use this sheet to take notes of the details of each clinical research study that interests you. Many of these questions will require a detailed conversation with someone working on the study.
Some places to learn more about research studies you might become involved with include:
- Health Canada
- The Consortium of Canadian Centres for Clinical Cognitive Research (C5R)
- Your local hospital or health science centre
- Your health-care providers (e.g., family physician)