Common Concerns with Participating in a Research Study

If I participate in a research study, I won’t get real medicine.

Clinical studies will often compare one treatment that is known to be effective with another treatment that may be more effective. Some studies involve a placebo – sometimes called a “sugar pill” – that is not active. You will always be told if a placebo is used in a study. Placebos are almost never used in studies for cancer. For other diseases, standard treatment plus a new treatment may be compared to standard treatment plus a placebo. Either way, you are getting real medicine.

The researchers can do whatever they want. I’m just a guinea pig.

Like all health care providers, the study team conducting research must follow rules and laws that protect your safety. Many of these are mandated by the federal government. Every clinical trial in the United States is approved and monitored by a committee whose job is to ensure your safety. At Yale, these committees are part of the Human Research Protection Program, which ensures that Yale studies are conducted ethically. All trials also follow a study plan that states exactly what researchers will do in the study

I’m not sick. Why should I take a chance and jeopardize my health?

There are many studies that need healthy volunteers to compare with those who have a certain medical condition. These studies usually involve lifestyle interventions or behavioral change. Sometimes these programs have the potential to benefit you. Other studies merely collect information by way of a questionnaire. These kinds of studies are an opportunity to help your community at little or no risk to you.

When I’m sick, I use remedies that have been in my family for years. I don’t need to spend a lot of time and money seeing a doctor.

Many people depend on home remedies to help them feel better when they’re sick. Others have had positive experiences with natural or herbal remedies. But if you rely solely on home or natural remedies, you could be missing out on proven medical treatments that have helped millions of people. We know those treatments work and that they are safe because they’ve been tested in clinical trials.

My faith will see me through when I’m sick.

Research shows that faith plays an important role in healing disease. There are also many medical treatments available to keep you healthy and extend your life. We can develop new ones only by carefully testing them to make sure they are safe and effective.