What do I need to know about health research?
What is Health Research?
Health research is an investigation of a health issue to learn more about it. It is usually funded by the government, private foundations, and/or drug companies with the hope that the new information will be useful to the community and to other researchers.
What is Clinical Research?
Clinical research answers a specific question about how safe medications, devices or other interventions are and how well they work. Much of the research that involves clinical research with people is conducted by medical doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers, and other health professionals.
Some Examples of Research Involving People Are:
• Developing a new test for cancer.
• Finding the best ways to reduce child obesity.
• Comparing two drugs for the treatment of heart disease to see which one works better.
• Developing a new dental procedure.
What about Research with Children?
It is important that children, as well as adults, be involved in research so that scientists can understand more about the health and behavior of children. There are specific laws and rules that apply to all research that involves children to protect them from harm. Children under 18 years of age cannot agree to participate in research for themselves and need to have their parents and/or guardians give permission for them to participate in research.
If you are a parent and/or guardian who is thinking about having your child involved in research we encourage you to talk with the researchers and to ask them as many questions as you may have about a study you are considering for your child.
What is Informed Consent?
Informed consent is a process. People who agree to participate in research must first understand and agree to volunteer based on the information the researcher gives them. That information must include details about the research, how long it will last, how many visits it will take, and all the risks and benefits.
The Informed Consent Form must contain the names and phone numbers of the researchers and of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) so that the participant can ask questions about the research or report any problems.
What is the IRB?
Research in which people will be asked to participate cannot begin until it has been approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). This group of people often includes doctors, social workers, nurses, scientists, and people from the local community. They all work together to make sure that human research is well planned and ethical.
The IRB decides, when approving studies, that it is reasonable to ask people whether they want to be involved. Both before and during the research study, the IRB serves to protect the rights and welfare of research participants. It makes sure that any risks in the research study are as small as possible. The IRB also reviews each study while it is going on to make sure volunteers continue to be protected.
Why should you participate in research?
People have many different reasons for volunteering for a research study. Some of those reasons are to:
• Help find a cure for an illness.
• Help find ways to provide better care for sick people.
• Benefit their community by being included in important health research.
• Help gather information about how people think and behave.
• Help discover more about how the body and mind work together.