Why Participate

Why should I participate in a clinical trial?

Participants in clinical trials gain access to experimental therapies before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research.

People participate in research for many reasons. Healthy people frequently participate in research studies to contribute to medical science and care for others. If you have a specific illness, enrolling in a clinical trial can offer access to new, experimental approaches to treatment that are often unavailable outside of a research setting.

What are the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial?

Below are some potential benefits of participation in research:

  • If you have a disease or condition that cannot be treated with an existing drug or therapy, study participation may provide you with access to promising new approaches to treatment not available otherwise.
  • If you are debilitated in some way, you may have the opportunity to test a therapy that might improve your quality of life.
  • If you have a specific medical problem for which you are experiencing difficulty finding good care, you may find access to improved care within a clinical trial, since the study doctors involved in the research focus directly on the disease or condition being investigated.
  • You may be altruistic; that is, you may have an interest in helping others in general, or helping those with a specific disease or condition. The results from clinical trials conducted today may help patients in the future.


There are potential risks to clinical trial participation:

  • There may be unpleasant, serious, or even life-threatening side effects from the experimental treatment or therapy.
  • The treatment may not be effective for the participant.
  • The protocol may require more of the participant’s time and attention than would a non-protocol treatment, requiring trips to the study site, more treatments, hospital stays, or complex dosage requirements.

Who can participate?

All clinical trials have guidelines about who can participate. Using inclusion/exclusion criteria is an important principle of medical research that helps to produce reliable results. The factors that allow someone to participate in a clinical trial are called "inclusion criteria," and those that disallow someone from participating are called "exclusion criteria." These criteria are based on such factors as age, gender, the type and stage of a disease, previous treatment history, and other medical conditions. Before joining a clinical trial, a participant must qualify for the study. Some research studies seek participants with illnesses or conditions to be studied in the clinical trial, while others need healthy participants. It is important to note that inclusion and exclusion criteria are not used to reject people personally. The criteria help ensure that researchers will be able to answer the questions they plan to study.

Contact Us

Rachel Posner
Tel: 212-241-6046

Conduits is supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health through Grant Number UL1TR000067.

Any use of CTSA-supported resources requires citation of grant #UL1TR000067 awarded to Icahn School of Medicine in the acknowledgment section of every publication resulting from this support. Adherence to the NIH Public Access Policy is also required.