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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Participating in NIMH-IRP Research Studies for Adults & Children

NIMH research studies are conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. The Clinical Center is the nation's largest research hospital. Since 1953, patients from all 50 states have participated in research on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

For more information, call 301-496-5645 (TTY 1-866-411-1010) or email nimhcore@mail.nih.gov

Our research mission is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. 

Some NIMH research studies enroll participants from across the United States.

First Steps to Participate in Research:

  • Call NIMH
  • Learn Study Details
  • Be Evaluated for Eligibility
  • Consent to Participate

What is a clinical research study?

A clinical research study is often called a clinical trial or a protocol. All are scientific studies in which people participate in the research. Clinical research has many goals such as developing new treatments, identifying causes of illnesses, studying trends, or evaluating ways genetics may be related to an illness. Some types of research studies do not require changes to current mental health treatment.

Why participate in a research study?

People participate in research for many reasons. Some hope to get the most advanced treatment available, while others want to help with scientific discovery. Research is our best hope for understanding and treating mental illnesses. Thanks to volunteers, researchers are learning more about the causes of mental disorders, and are finding new ways to treat and prevent illnesses.

What types of research studies are being conducted?

Non-Treatment Studies

Detailed screenings and evaluations, computer tasks, neuropsychological testing, brain imaging, epidemiological and longitudinal studies are all examples of non-treatment studies.

Treatment Studies

These studies test the effectiveness of standard or experimental drugs, procedures, or interventions. Some compare different treatments, while others compare a treatment to a placebo. In some cases, after study completion participants receive short-term follow-up care while transitioning back to the community.

Genetic Studies

These identify how genes may relate to mental disorders and may include donating a blood or tissue sample.

Family Studies

These are studies that aim to discover patterns of disorders among families, and may include brain imaging or genetic studies.

Brain Imaging Studies

These may involve PET, MRI, fMRI, MRS, or MEG brain scans.

Who can participate in research?

Each clinical research study has different requirements that determine whether an adult or child can participate. These requirements are called “inclusion” and “exclusion” criteria. The criteria are used to help researchers identify appropriate study participants. Potential participants are interviewed by phone and/or in person to determine if they meet eligibility criteria. For child participants, parental permission is required.

What is the time commitment?

Time commitment varies with each study. Some studies take one or more hours during a day-visit, while other studies vary from one overnight stay in the hospital to a week or several months. Some other studies can be done by phone or at home.

How does a person enroll in a study?

If you are interested in one of our studies, visit us at http://patientinfo.nimh.nih.gov or call us at 301-496-5646.

What are participants’ rights?

Before you enroll in a study, all volunteers are given the details of the study, including risks and benefits, during an informed consent process. As a safeguard to protect participants’ rights and answer questions, the Office of the Clinical Director also has a team of clinicians who monitor the research participation of some volunteers. All participants have the right to withdraw from research at anytime.

Where are the studies conducted?

Most of our research studies are conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. There are some studies in which volunteers can participate from home.

How much does it cost to participate?

There is no cost to participate.

Is there compensation?

Compensation is available for some studies. Travel and transportation may be reimbursed for participants in some studies.