Why participate?

Why Are Research Studies Important?

Research studies are important, because they can help provide:

  • an organized, methodical way to learn more about a specific concern
  • answers about whether or not a treatment is effective
  • a better understanding about which health care services are effective and efficient
  • opportunities to test whether a drug or piece of equipment is safe and effective
  • answers to questions about the best way to treat or prevent an illness

What Are the Results of VA Research?

While some studies look at existing information, numbers, or other data, other studies require human participation. These volunteer participants have contributed to many important advances in health care, including:

  • The development of microelectronics and robotics to create artificial limbs that look, feel, and work more like natural arms and legs
  • The creation of the nicotine patch to help people stop smoking.
  • Inventing the cardiac pacemaker.
  • Performing the first successful liver transplant.
  • Contributing to the development of the CAT (or CT) scan.
  • Developing new drugs and treatments for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis.

No one can predict the exact outcome of a research study, and you may or may not see a direct benefit to your health or health condition if you take part in a research study-but your participation does matter.

What to Ask Before You Participate

If you are asked to participate in a research project, get as much information as you can about the study. The questions below may help you to decide whether volunteering is right for you.

  • Who is doing this study and what questions might it answer?
  • Who reviewed or approved this study?
  • What could happen to my health if I take part in this study?
  • What tests or procedures will I have during the study?
  • How long will this study last?
  • If I decide to participate, how will it affect my daily life?
  • Will I have to make extra trips to the VA?
  • Will I be charged anything or paid anything to be in this study?
  • Who will be in charge of my care? Can I continue seeing my own doctor?
  • Who will be told I am taking part in this study? What information will they receive?
  • What happens to any specimens that I give?
  • What happens after the study ends?
  • Will I be told the results of the study?
  • How do I end my participation in the study if I change my mind?
  • What other options do I have if I decide not to take part in this study?
  • Whom do I contact for questions and information about the study?

For more about VA Research, particularly as it pertains to PTSD, read this VA brochure: