Opportunities to Get Involved

The most direct way to become involved with research is to sign up to be a participant in a research study.

As we saw in Unit 2 – Informed Decision-Making, there are many different types of research. As a participant, you might be asked to do different things, from answering questions or taking part in a group discussion to donating a blood or tissue sample to taking a new drug or medication. While some people are initially hesitant to participate in a research study, interviews with past study participants show that most people who participate in research studies have a positive experience and are willing to participate again in future studies.

In Informed Decision-Making, we introduced ways to prepare yourself to become an informed decision maker about participating in research. But knowing how to make an informed decision and knowing how to find a study to join are two different things. Here, we offer some suggestions on how you can find out about research opportunities in your area.

Watch a short PSA from the Building Trust project featuring Healthy Black Family Project member and research participant Adrienne Trowery.

Opportunities to Become a Research Participant

The suggestions listed here are some first steps you can take to find the right study for you. Always inform yourself before you sign on for any study, and make sure you understand the project you are considering and the risks and benefits involved. Be sure that all of your questions about the study are answered before you join.

Some family physicians conduct research studies with the patients and communities they serve. These research projects may be clinical studies or studies designed to help improve their quality of care. Even if he or she is not conducting research themselves, your physician might know of other doctors who are. Don't forget that if you are seeing a specialist for a specific disease or condition, your doctor may be able to guide you to studies related to that illness.

Ask Your Doctor

The internet can be a great source for finding research studies that are relevant to you. ClinicalTrials.gov is an NIH provided database of all publicly and privately funded clinical trials being conducted in the United States. You can search this website for clinical trials on a specific condition or in a specific location. Another online resource for becoming a participant in research is ResearchMatch.org. This website is designed to bring together people interested in volunteering for a research study and researchers looking to recruit volunteers. ResearchMatch includes both survey and clinical research studies and welcomes both healthy volunteers as well as people affected by specific diseases or conditions. In addition, national institutions dedicated to treating certain diseases often have websites with links that can direct you to research studies. For example, the American Alzheimer’s Association and the National Cancer Institute are just two examples of many.

Online Resources

Invitations to join research studies can be found all around you in your daily life. Once you are aware, you'll see "invitations" to participate in the form of flyers or posters at bus stops or on subway trains. You'll see advertisements in your local newspaper, on the TV and radio, and on bulletin boards in coffee shops or restaurants. Many times, health researchers use these methods of recruitment to reach a large number of people who may or may not be eligible to join the study. These ads will always include a way to find out more information.

Look Around

Another way to find out about research studies is to contact your local health department, local schools of medicine, or schools of public health. Ask your family and friends, especially those involved in health professions. You'll be surprised by how many opportunities there are around you.

Ask Around

Important Question

What types of research might interest you as a participant?