Great Tips for Clinical Trials and Medical Trials Volunteer
Your Mother Tongue.
If you are reading these ‘helpful hints’ without problem, then it probably means that you speak and read English to quite an advanced level. This will most certainly work in your favour when approaching clinics. The majority of clinics will only accept volunteers that speak the language of where the clinic is located. By accepting volunteers who speak a foreign language, clinics may be over complicating their application process. They will need to translate consent forms, clinic rules etc. Being fluent in English will be of great help .
Get yourself a GP.
When being recruited onto a medical trial, it is likely that you will be asked to provide your medical history. It is vital for the clinics to ensure that all information provided is legitimate, as any false information could lead to fatal consequences. By providing the contact details of your local GP (general practitioner), the clinics can validate your medical history. In the UK most clinics will require a 6 to 12 month doctors registration from your home country or in the case of Cambridge , Scotland and Ireland at least a 3 month doctors registration in the UK .
However, if you are not British, it is likely that you will not have a local GP. Still, there are up to 4 possible ways you could satisfy this requirement.
- You can register with a local GP at no cost under Britain’s NHS system. The process includes a routine health check, and is a simple matter for those holding Commonwealth or EU citizenship, who are therefore entitled to reciprocal health care. If you are not a Commonwealth or EU citizen, then you may have to visit several practices before you find one willing to accept you as an NHS patient. You might have to state your intention to live in the area for at least six months, and explain your need to satisfy the clinic’s requirement that you provide them with a doctor to contact. Do not register as a “temporary patient”, if you do you won’t have a health check or a complete set of medical records on file, and some clinics may find this unacceptable. Remember also that you are supposed to register with a GP in your catchment area, so you should provide a nearby legitimate address where they will be able to send your NHS card or any other correspondence. In addition, be sure to give them a phone number they can contact you at regarding appointments etc.
- Most clinics will accept the contact details of your doctor from your home country.
- Another possibility is to provide the contact number of a clinic at which you have taken part in trials before. This is probably only an option if you successfully completed multiple trials there in recent years, and if they keep files containing your medical history in their volunteer database. Be aware, however, most clinics do not retain this information. It also helps if there is a doctor or volunteer recruiter there who would know you.
- As a final resort you may consider registering privately. This can cost up to £60, depending on the doctor that you go to.
You should be aware that not all clinics are big operations that staff full-time volunteer recruiters. This means that it may be necessary for you to phone them more than once, as they may not get back to you straight away. Being persistent may pay off but don’t be so persistent that you become an annoyance.
If you have decided that you want to do a medical trial, then it is probably not a good idea to donate your blood or plasma as blood donations can leave you very anemic and you will not be allowed to participate in both although you could donate blood and participate in non systemic or non invasive research without any problems .
Be sure not to eat any foods containing poppy seeds before or during a trial as they can cause a positive result to a drug test.
You may think that if you are around people that smoke drugs but you are not actually smoking them yourself, you will not test positive on a drug test. This is not true. If you are around people who smoke marijuana or hash, then this can show up as a positive result in a drugs test as you have received the smoke passively.
Too much alcohol?
Try to refrain from going on drinking binges for up to a week prior to your trial. Although the alcohol will leave your system, your blood may still be thinned from the affects of the substance thus causing abnormal results in a blood test.
Are you local?
It is a requirement of some clinics that the volunteers are of local residency, which usually means coming from within 50 miles/ 80 km. If you are not a permanent local resident, then a perfect solution may be to book into a local backpackers hostel as this can be provided as an address. Most will require a passport for proof of travel.
You should however be aware that some clinics will require you to be a permanent local resident which means that the hostel address where you are staying will not be considered to be acceptable. Most clinics in the UK will accept volunteers from far and wide and the major concern is usually if you are from afar that are you going to be reliable . Most clinics find volunteers with a local address to be a far safer bet .
Make sure that you are expected.
You may need to provide a proof of the address where you are staying, so you should think about this in advance to your arrival at the hostel or at your friends house.
The clinics may also want to call you to change or confirm information regarding your trial. For this reason, it is important to inform the hostel or your friend that you are coming, so that they can take messages on your behalf.
Smokers vs. non-smokers.
If you are taking part in a trial that is recruiting non-smokers, you should remember that being a non-smoker really means having given up for a period of 90 days , rather than being someone who just has a couple here and there., you are still a smoker.
Competition can sometimes be fierce when in the screening process. This is mostly true when the study you are going for is recruiting from the most popular clinics and are paying the most amount of money. Some clinics unfortunately take advantage of the volunteer’s competitive side by falsely stating that the amount of subjects they wish to recruit is actually higher than it is. This makes the odds of being accepted seem higher which means that the clinic will get a higher response of people applying. This allows the clinics to be pickier with whom they choose. However, you shouldn’t let this put you off as it could well be you that is the ‘perfect volunteer’.
Being a reserve subject.
Most clinics are honest and will inform you fully on your recruitment position. However, some clinics will tell you that you have been accepted to be a volunteer to only tell you on the day of the trial that you are a reserve subject. This means that for you to take part in the trial, the other subjects must fail a blood test, be dropped for medical reasons or fall in a ditch on the way to the trial. Thankfully, most clinics will inform you up front whether or not you are a reserve subject and many will pay you for your inconvenience regardless. There not too bad really.
Read and be sure.
Ok, so we have all had a long, boring contract put in front of to be read for us only to sign it without paying our full attention. However, it is of the utmost importance for you to read your informed consent form as if there is something that you are not sure about, you need to ask questions.
Keep the bugs away.
You should do everything in your power to prevent yourself from getting ill before trial. Eating fruit rich in vitamin C, such as oranges and kiwi fruit can help keep infections away. Also good at preventing colds are zinc (found in non-processed meat), and garlic (especially if eaten raw). Alternatively, you can find supplements of these in any health store or pharmacy. You can also use certain kinds of herbal extracts, the most popular being køb melatonin. It pays not to take vitamin tablets and in particular St Johns Wort for a min of 2 weeks prior to participation . We need you squeaky clean for safety reasons .
Don’t mix your drugs.
If you take other medication close to or during a trial, this could result in serious injury. If there are medications that you must take for health reasons, you should inform your trial organiser.
As a volunteer, you are able to pull out of most studies at any point. However, by doing this, you may be blacklisted from future studies as clinics look for volunteers who are reliable. Most clinics will tolerate you pulling out a first time but will probably not tolerate it a second time. You should aim to give the clinic as much prior notice as possible when you decide not to complete the study. However, do not simply not turn up as this will almost certainly result in you being blacklisted.
Get a back-up plan.
A study and the study dates are not always set in stone. Therefore it may be sensible for you to have a back-up study that you can participate in. At some clinics, studies are cancelled or pushed back with alarming frequency.
Be on your best behaviour.
Behaving aggressively or complaining too loud will not do you any favours in the clinic. Try to keep your complaints down to a minimum and keep your eyes on the prize.
Mutiny on the unit.
Don’t circulate petitions (or sign them) protesting your pay, or restrictions on the unit. Remember you agreed to these when you agreed to take part in the study. Usually this behaviour will get you banned from the clinic in the future.
It has been known for clinics to change the dates of trials and screenings etc. Dates can change for a number of unforeseen reasons. For this reason, it is beneficial if you can be flexible with when you can go into the clinic.
If you are asked by another volunteer to exchange your list of clinics be sure to check the legitimacy of the list, as some volunteers have been known to change just one digit of all of the phone numbers to prevent anyone phoning the clinics. How dare they.
Take your medicine.
Be sure to follow your instructions precisely and do not ‘cheek’ your medications as you will probably be found out as it will lead to inconsistent results in any tests preformed.
Do as you’re told.
Make sure that you follow any rules laid down by the clinics as the results from not doing so may be getting fined, the clinic withholding your bonus payment or perhaps an immediate discharge.
Replenish your blood.
If you have participated in trials that have involved many blood draws, it is important for you to replenish your red blood-cell count. You can do this by taking iron supplements or eating iron-rich foods such as liver, spinach, and shellfish. Washing your food down with orange juice helps your body absorb the iron easier and quicker.
Flush your kidneys.
You can flush out your kidneys, before and after a trial, by drinking plenty of water as well as herbal tea, lemon juice, and cranberry juice.
In between trials.
You should be aware that in England you can expect to have up to a 4 month wait until you are allowed to be recruited onto the next trial. Most UK clinics have a 3 month waiting period as the average clinical trial can take as much blood as the average blood donation . This is UK blood donation law rather than a safety thing . This is different to how the American’s do it, as they usually only have to wait up to 30 days and this is considered to be enough time to replenish . However, depending on the drugs that you tested and the type of trial that you participated in, you may not have to wait the full 3 months.
Remember you manners.
When having a phone interview or a prior screening, it always pays to be polite and clear-headed. If the clinic has a large quantity of people volunteering, your personality may be a key factor in your recruitment.
Use common sense.
The very nature of medical trials means that it is vital for you to apply your own common sense when approaching a clinic or medical trial. It is not rocket science to be a volunteer but you will need to be sensible.