Without medical research, medicine would not have made the advances that we enjoy today. For you and for future patients, research is essential. Volunteering for medical research provides participants with opportunities to contribute to society, to the community and to others who have health problems.
Each research study has requirements about who can participate. Using specific requirements is an important principle of research that helps to produce reliable results. These requirements are called inclusion and exclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria explain exactly what kinds of people may participate, while exclusion criteria explain exactly what kinds of people may not participate.
These criteria are often based on such factors as age, gender, medical history, current health and past medical treatments. Some research studies seek participants with specific illnesses or conditions, while others need healthy volunteers.
Informed consent is the process of learning the key facts about a research study before deciding whether to participate. The consent process continues to provide information to you throughout your time in the study.
To help you decide whether or not to participate, the researchers and staff will meet with you to explain the details of the study. You should feel free to ask any questions and to tell them if you don't understand something.
The research team then provides an informed consent document that explains details about the study, such as its purpose, its length, required procedures, and key contacts. Known risks and potential benefits are also explained. You may also take a 'read only' copy of the informed consent document home with you to review and consider.
If you decide to participate, you must sign the informed consent document. You will be given a copy of the document to keep. Informed consent is not a contract; by signing it you do not give up any of your rights and you can quit at any time. If you decide to quit, you should tell the research team.