The Benefits of Participation

What are the risks and benefits of participating in research?

Clinical research can involve risk, but it is important to remember that routine medical care also involves risk. It is important that you weigh the risks and benefits of participating in research before enrolling. When thinking about risk, consider two important questions:

If you are interested in participating in a study, ask the researchers any questions that will help you decide whether to participate. Taking time to share your concerns will help you feel safe if you do decide to volunteer. (You can find sample questions at the end of this booklet.) It may be helpful to involve close family members, your doctors, or friends in this decision-making process.


The nature of the risks depends on the kind of study. Often, clinical studies pose the risk of only minor discomfort that lasts for a short time. For example, in some mental health studies, participants take psychological tests; this is obviously a different kind of risk from undergoing surgery as part of a study. A participant in a study requiring surgery may risk greater complications. Risk can occur in many different ways, and it is important to speak with the research team to understand the risks in a particular study.

Keep in mind that all research sites are required to review their studies for any possible harm, and to share any potential risks with study volunteers. Possible risks include the following:


Benefits to participating in a study include:

Source: National Institute of Mental Health.

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