What is a healthy volunteer?
A healthy volunteer is someone with no known health problems who chooses to take part in research. This research could test a new medicine, device, or intervention.
Many healthy people choose to volunteer in research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone has nearly 3,500 healthy volunteers in its research studies every year.
Why are healthy volunteers important?
Click on this video to hear why healthy volunteers are important in clinical trials.
Healthy volunteers have always played an important role in research. Reasons healthy volunteers are important to research include:
- Provide a comparison for those with illness or disease. This can be to:
- Compare a group of healthy people to a group of people with a disease or illness
- Compare someone healthy directly to someone with an illness who has similar characteristics (sex, age, family relationship, etc.)
- Determine normal results (for example, when testing a new blood test).
- Learn why some people get a disease and other people do not.
- Help researchers understand why some medicines work well for some people but do not work well for others.
- Help people in the future.
If I am healthy, why should I participate in a study?
Click on this video to hear about why you should take part in a clinical trial.
Healthy people can choose to take part in a clinical trial. Some reasons healthy people may take part include:
- Receiving a thorough physical exam or free health services depending on the study.
- Receive compensation.
- Contribute to improving healthcare.
- Feeling good about helping someone who is suffering or may suffer in the future from illness or disease.
- Help provide information for developing new treatments.
Why would I not want to participate in a study?
Click on this video to hear a real story about why a person decided not to take part in a clinical trial.
People can decide not to take part in a clinical trial. Some things to consider when making that decision include:
- Risks specific to that study
- How long a person needs to take part in the study
- Where the appointments are
- You may have concern about the accidental release of your personal information. Every study must have security measures to prevent this from happening
- Risks are different for each study. A recruiter will discuss these with you.
How do healthy volunteers find the right study?
Click on this video to hear how to find research studies for healthy volunteers.
There are a few ways people who want to be healthy volunteers can find the right study:
- Search the word “healthy” in clinicaltrials.gov or clinicalstudies.info.nih.gov
- Join the registry for the Clinical Research Volunteer Program. This registry has been around since 1995. It connects volunteers to matching clinical research studies at the NIH Clinical Center.
- If you find a study you want to join, make sure to read the study overview and requirements to take part.
- Parents or guardians must be present for participants under 18 years old.
Find more resources
Importance of Healthy Participants
Click on a link below to learn more about why healthy volunteers are vital for clinical trials and how you can participate:
Pros and Cons of Being a Healthy Participant
Click on a link below to learn more about how you may benefit as a healthy participant:
At Chicago Public Library
Click on a link below to see resources at Chicago Public Library:
Find a clinical trial
Find a trial at Northwestern University here
Call a clinical trials recruitment nurse at Northwestern: (312)-695-1102
Find trials throughout Chicago and the US here
From the Chicago Department of Public Health
Connect to services and programs around Chicago
Chicago Health Atlas – for data to better understand health in Chicago and identify opportunities to improve health and well-being
CDPH’s Healthy Chicago 2.0 initiative
Print out this guide to the pros and cons of being a healthy participant.