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How to Participate in a Study or Trial

Read the frequently asked questions below to learn how to participate in a research study or clinical trial at Memorial Hermann.

How do I decide if I want to be in a research study or clinical trial?

Research is not treatment. There is no guarantee that you will be helped by participating in a study. However, you will help researchers better understand the problem and possibly help other people in the future.

Who can be in a study?

Each research study has very clear requirements for who can participate as a subject in that study. Each study has different requirements, depending on the what the researcher is investigating. A member of the research team will discuss the study with you, answer your questions and tell you if you can be a subject. Participation is completely voluntary.

What do I need to ask?

Be sure to ask the team members these questions. You are welcome to ask them any other questions you may have about the study.

  • What do you want to find out from the study?
  • What exactly will happen to me in the study?
  • Will there be any unpleasant side effects?
  • Will the research help me personally?
  • What other options do I have?
  • Can I leave the study at any time?
  • What will happen to my information?
  • Will my insurance have to pay for anything?
  • Will I have to pay for anything?

You will be given an informed consent form with details about the study. You are encouraged to read it very carefully and discuss it with your family and doctor before making your decision. If you agree to participate, you will be asked to sign this form.

Who pays for research studies and clinical trials?

There are many different sponsors for research. There are many research departments of the United States federal government that sponsor studies; one of the best known is the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but there are many others that sponsor different areas of research. Drug and medical device companies also sponsor studies (industry sponsors). They must show that their products are safe and effective before they can be approved by the Food & Drug Administration and then used by the public. Private foundations also sponsor research. Researchers at Memorial Hermann receive funding from all of these different types of sponsors.

The sponsor pays for certain parts of the research study. Your insurance company may pay for routine care that would happen even if you weren’t in a study. You will be responsible for anything that the sponsor or your health insurance does not cover. Be sure to ask the research team members about what costs you may have if you decide to participate in the study.

What happens to the information?

All information about you and your participation in the study is private and confidential. If you would like to find out the results of the study, ask the research team members to send you anything that is published or reported once the study is completed. Be aware that groups other than the research team, such as the sponsor or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), may have the right to confidentially review your information.

What are my rights if I become a subject? How am I protected?

Protecting people who participate in research is very important. Researchers and healthcare professionals must follow federal laws, ethical codes, and national standards when working with human subjects. Your rights and welfare are protected by several organizations, including:

What if someone asks if my baby or child can be in a study?

In general the law considers any person under 18 years of age to be a child. As a parent, you can decide if your baby or child will be in a study. Research with children must meet all the same requirements as research with adults, described above. In addition, this research must follow special rules that provide additional protection for children. The IRB is responsible for making sure that these rules are followed.

How do I volunteer to participate?

Contact the Memorial Hermann Clinical Innovation & Research Institute to learn about current studies at Memorial Hermann. The staff can help you find a trial suited to your needs.

For more information on participating in a clinical trial or study, please e-mail us at research@memorialhermann.org.