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Friday, May 24, 2013
Medical discovery is a step-by-step process to learn about health and to prevent and treat disease. Research has led to important discoveries such as:
One of the most important parts of the process is to apply knowledge learned through basic science research to real-life settings. But the only way to do this is through research studies with people. By taking part as a research volunteer, you can help researchers understand the whole picture of health and disease and improve health for individuals, families and communities.
Research has shown that health factors are not the same in all populations. These health disparities are an important area of focus for research studies. Diversity of research volunteers is the most important way to be sure that studies find information that is effective for everyone. For example, symptoms of heart disease in women, differ from those in men. Similarly, African American men are more likely to develop high blood pressure at an earlier age. Life circumstances can be very important, too. Things that might work well in a more controlled office setting, might work differently with the day-to-day realities that occur in our lives. Research studies can test for all of these things. By taking part, you can help find the best ways to provide health care for people from all walks of life.
There are many ways you can be involved. These include everything from taking a paper and pencil survey to being a part of the research design team in community-based participatory research. To learn about those examples and everything in between see Clinical Research: Studies with People.
You can find research studies in a number of ways including your doctor's office, a medical university, or online. Studies vary in the time they will take and whether they are done in a medical or community setting; you can choose the study that works for you. When you search, be sure that you consider the geographic area. The following link will get you started: Search for Research Studies.
If you are interested in taking part in a research study, here are some things to think about:
This article includes information from a brochure available from the Office for Human Research Protections.
This article is a NetWellness exclusive.
Last Reviewed: May 13, 2011
Ashwini Sehgal, MD
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University