Basic tips for searching studies
Research helps experts to understand more about health and disease and to develop new strategies that improve people’s health. By participating in research, people like you may hold the key to better health outcomes for all. Here are some tips to get you started.
Before you search
Every patient has the right to know about all of their options for care, including clinical trials and research, but your doctor may not be aware of all the research opportunities available to you, especially if he practices at a hospital or facility that is not enrolling patients in a study. Inform your doctor before and after enrolling in a study, even if he did not recommend it to you—he may have important insights, questions, or recommendations about your participation.
It’s helpful to have your medical records on hand as you search for research studies. You may also need copies of your medical records to participate.
If you need additional help
Need support, or help finding research studies? Sign up for our Peer Navigation Program to be matched with a trained volunteer who can assist you. If you need help understanding the terminology and abbreviations used in clinical trials, visit our list of definitions [link-needed].
Which type of study?
Our online Research Search Tool is organized into helpful categories::
- Treatment studies
- Eligible participants: People who have been diagnosed with cancer or certain types of precancerous conditions.
- Research focus: Treating active cancer or preventing cancer from returning after treatment. It also includes studies of treatment side effects.
- Visit this page for additional tips for searching for treatment studies.
- Prevention, detection, and risk studies
- Eligible participants: People who are at average, or increased risk for cancer. Studies may also include previously diagnosed cancer patients who wish to participate in research that is focused on their future risk of cancers.
- Research focus: Cancer risk assessment, genetic testing, screening and early detection, cancer prevention or risk reduction.
- Visit this page for additional tips for searching for prevention, detection, and risk studies.
- Quality of life and wellbeing studies
- Eligible participants: People with or without a cancer diagnosis.
- Research focus: Long-term health outcomes after cancer diagnosis, treatment, or prevention. This category also includes studies on emotional health and coping, symptoms of surgical menopause, and fertility preservation.
- Visit this page for additional tips for searching for quality of life and wellbeing studies.
- Surveys, registries, and interviews
- Eligible participants: Depends on the focus of the research.
- Research focus: Studies in this section may focus on a variety of topics. These studies involve completing a survey, questionnaire, phone, or in-person interview. Registries—research studies that collect patient data and observe how a person’s health changes over time—may ask participants to provide access to their medical records, lab test results or other health information, and permission to contact them for updates.
If there are no study sites enrolling near you
Most research studies list specific sites enrolling patients; however, sometimes lists are incomplete or outdated. If you are interested in a clinical trial or study that is not enrolling in your area, reach out to the main study contact to see if you can participate remotely or if they have future plans to open a study site near you.
Some people who do not have clinical trials in their areas are willing and able to travel to another city or state to participate. Clinical trials sometimes have provisions for covering travel costs, so it's worthwhile to reach out to the study contact to learn your options. Hotels near a medical facility may offer discounts or financial assistance for people who travel for medical care.
If you plan to travel out of the United States to participate in a clinical trial, be aware that other countries may have different laws and protections regarding patient participation in research.
Our tool allows you to add a keyword to your search. Spelling matters! If you do not see results that you expect, check the spelling or see if there is an alternate term or name for the word for which you are searching. Or try your search without the keyword to see if it yields more results.
Cost to participate in research
Your health insurance is required to cover routine costs for your care, including routine care that you receive under a clinical trial. Insurance companies may not have to cover the cost of an experimental treatment or procedure the trial is studying. Many clinical trials cover costs that might not be covered by insurance. Ask the research team about any possible out-of-pocket costs you may incur. Some studies cover travel, parking, and childcare, and some provide a stipend or gift card in exchange for your time.
About our Research Study Search Tool
FORCE’s Featured Research Page and our Research Search Tool focus specifically on research studies that are enrolling patients with, or at high risk for hereditary cancer. Our tool searches two research study databases: