Why Participate in Clinical Research?

Have you ever been interested in clinical research? Perhaps you’re not sure why anyone would want to participate in the first place? Or maybe you haven’t even heard of it until now? This blog post discusses clinical research generally, as well as some of the pros and cons to participating.

Clinical research is a branch of medical science that involves the study of human health and disease through carefully designed investigations. These studies aim to improve our understanding of various medical conditions, develop new treatments and therapies, evaluate the effectiveness of existing interventions, and enhance healthcare practices. What clinical research actually looks like can vary, but generally includes clinical trials, where a new drug or medical device is being tested, or observational studies, where researchers are trying to learn more about their population of interest. It involves collaboration between researchers, healthcare professionals, and study participants to gather data and produce results.

If you’re considering whether clinical research would be a good fit for you or not, you might find the following pros and cons helpful.


  1. Contribute to Medical Advances: By participating in research, individuals have the opportunity to contribute to the development of new treatments, medications, and medical interventions that can improve health outcomes for themselves and others.
  2. Access to Cutting-Edge Treatments: Research participants may gain access to innovative therapies or interventions before they become widely available, potentially offering new options for managing health conditions or improving quality of life.
  3. Close Monitoring and Care: Participants in research studies often receive close monitoring and care from healthcare professionals, who closely track their progress and provide support throughout the study period. Research can also inform routine clinical care.
  4. Personal Empowerment: Taking an active role in research can empower individuals to become advocates for their own health, fostering a sense of agency and control over their medical care and treatment decisions.
  5. Financial Compensation: Some research studies offer financial compensation or reimbursement for participation, which can help offset costs associated with healthcare or provide supplemental income.


  1. Potential Risks: Participation in research studies may involve risks, such as side effects from experimental treatments, discomfort from medical procedures, or unforeseen complications, which can vary depending on the nature of the study. You should always thoroughly discuss risks with investigative staff before joining a study.
  2. Time and Commitment: Research participation often requires a significant time commitment, including regular visits to research sites, adherence to study protocols, and completion of study-related tasks, which can be challenging for individuals with busy schedules or other commitments.
  3. Uncertainty: The outcomes of research studies, including the effectiveness of new treatments or interventions, are uncertain and may not always produce the desired results or benefits for participants.
  4. Privacy Concerns: Participants may have concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of their personal health information, especially in studies involving data collection or sharing of sensitive medical data. Researchers should always strive to protect your data, but it is not something that can ever be 100% guaranteed (e.g. data breaches).
  5. Limited Generalizability: The findings of research studies may not always apply to everyone, as study populations are often selected based on specific criteria and may not fully represent the diversity of the broader population.

Think about these general pros and cons, as well as what is best for you and your family, before committing to a study. Investigative staff will always be available to discuss questions with you and ensure you find the best fit for your needs. Additionally, we highly recommend checking out the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP). CISCRP is a first-of-its-kind nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and informing the public, patients, medical/research communities, the media, and policy makers about clinical research and the role each party plays in the process. They have a lot of great resources available to anyone seeking information about clinical research, both general and disease-specific.

If you’re interested in research at the Anschutz Medical Campus, the Department of Neurology offers a variety of clinical research opportunities, including drug studies, non-drug treatments, device studies, observational studies, biobanking, patient-reported outcomes, imaging studies, quality improvements, and translational lab research. These studies are designed by our outstanding physicians or receive support from various sources, including pharmaceutical industries, private foundations, and government agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH). You can find more information here. For research studies offered here at the CSAND Lab, please navigate to our Open Studies page under the “For Patients” section.

Written with assistance from ChatGPT-4.