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Learn About Research Studies

Why participate in research?

Research is essential to increasing our understanding of mood disorders, developing new treatments, and deciding which treatments work best for which people. At DBSA, we support research that shares in our mission to improve the lives of people living with mood disorders.

But participating in research is not for everyone. And some research studies have risks. This page was created to help you learn about types of research and make an informed decision about participating.

Types of Research

Clinical trials are studies that compare different treatments. They may compare a new treatment (like a new medication) to an older one. Or they may compare a new treatment to a placebo (like a sugar pill). Participating in a clinical trial usually means letting researchers decide what treatment you will receive. Learn more about clinical trials.

Other research studies collect information without providing any treatment. These studies might range from a one-time survey to a longitudinal study collecting information over months or years. In these types of studies, it's important to understand that the researchers are collecting information that might help other people, not providing treatment intended to help you.

Protecting Your Rights as a Research Participant

Ethical Review and Approval

Every research study should be reviewed and approved by an ethics committee (often called an Institutional Review Board or IRB). This committee decides whether the value of the study outweighs any risk to participants.

Informed Consent

Before you participate in any research, you should understand the risks and give your permission. That process is called informed consent, meaning that you should be informed before you decide whether to consent.

This process can happen in different ways depending on the type of study. In a clinical trial (a study comparing different treatments) you will usually meet with a member of the research staff in person to discuss the study and sign a consent form. If the study involves a survey by telephone or mail, then you may give consent over the phone or by signing and mailing in a consent form. In any case, you should have a chance to ask questions.

Whether you are informed about a study in person, over the phone, by mail, or over the internet, the informed consent process should provide the following information:

  • The purpose of the study
  • The possible benefits and risks of participating
  • The reasons why you may be dropped from the study and how you can voluntarily leave the study
  • A list of any charges you may have to pay to take part in the research
  • If the study provides treatment, a description of what kind of treatment you will receive following the study
  • Procedures for protecting your privacy
  • A description of how you will learn about results of the study or results of tests you have as part of the study

You should take as much time as you need to decide about participating. That may mean thinking about it overnight or talking with your friends, family members, or usual care providers (doctors or therapists).

Informed consent is not a one-time event, but a continuing process. Throughout a study, the research team must provide information about your participation in the study. They must respond to any questions you have about the research and inform you if any new risks are identified. At any time you may withdraw your consent and end your participation in the study.

Find research studies.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance does not endorse nor recommend any particular research study. Patients should discuss all options with their health care providers and family members before beginning any study.