Why volunteer in clinical trials?
People volunteer in clinical trials for a whole host of reasons, here are just a few:
What is it like to participate in a trial?
Every trial is different, but we hope to give you a snapshot of what this may be like.
Where do these trials take place?
Our trials are conducted by NHS doctors and nurses at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
What is the screening process like?
When you register your interest with us, our team will contact you by phone or email to assess whether you qualify for any of our on-going trials. This will involve questions about your age, health and lifestyle habits.
You may then be invited for a screening visit at St Mary’s Hospital, where you will be given more information about the trial and will have the opportunity ask any questions you may have. Our NHS clinical team will then determine whether you are suitable for the trial; they will ask you questions about your medical history, test your lung function and take a blood test. You will be asked to sign a consent form before this process begins. If you meet the screening criteria, you will be given the opportunity to enrol on a trial, but this is completely voluntary.
What is an average trial visit like?
Our trials usually test treatments for respiratory conditions or the common cold. During these visits the clinical team may carry out lung function tests and take small samples of blood and sputum (coughing up phlegm or mucus) and take samples from your nose. You may also be asked to complete daily symptom diaries at home. Most visits last between 40 minutes to an hour, although some can be longer than this. The number of visits will vary according to the trial, but you will be given all this information at your screening visit.
What is a viral challenge?
Many of our trials involving giving volunteers the common cold virus (known as human rhinovirus). You may develop cold symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and a cough, but these are usually mild. You are likely to have had several colds caused by rhinovirus in your life, but this isn’t to be confused with the more severe ‘flu’ virus.
Will I definitely receive a new medication?
Not necessarily. Our trials are usually ‘placebo controlled’, which means half of the volunteers will receive the drug and the other half will receive a treatment that doesn’t contain the active ingredient (essentially a sugar pill). This allows researchers to determine how effective the medication is.
Can I change my mind once I agree to take part?
Yes. Participating in trials is voluntary. You are free to withdraw at any time and this will not affect your normal medical care.
Am I paid for taking part?
We don’t pay people for taking part in studies, but you will be reimbursed for your time, inconvenience and travel. The amount is dependent on the study.
“It was an interesting and meaningful experience. The trial was well explained from start to finish and I was always treated with politeness and care. I can honestly say I enjoyed my visits with the clinical study team.”
-Justin, Volunteer on Virtus trial
“From start to finish my experience taking part in the trial was an entirely positive one. The nurses and physicians I encountered were professional and caring, answering my questions honestly and explaining every stage of the trial in detail along the way. The whole process went very smoothly without any problems. There was flexibility with the appointment times which allowed for minimum disruption to my other commitments and the trial team remained communicative and accommodating throughout the entire process.
The trial itself was non invasive and not at all difficult to complete, the only downside being mild cold symptoms for several days which whilst fully expected, were much less severe than I’d anticipated. I would happily volunteer for another clinical trial with the team and have recommended it to friends.”
-Katie, Volunteer on Virtus trial