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Patients Volunteering to Participate in Research

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What is Research

Research is a study done to answer a specific question.  Physicians and others who do research at WellSpan Health are searching for the treatments and medicines that best help their patients. Research at WellSpan Health is driven by the health needs and issues of our community. Volunteers are an integral element of the research because without volunteers, medical science could not advance. If you are asked to join a research study, please learn all you can about the study and take the time to discuss the study with your physician and trusted family and friends.  You may also contact the WellSpan Research staff at (717) 851-2223 if you have questions.

Why Research is Important

Research has led to important discoveries that make our lives and our health better.  Some examples are:

  • New drugs to treat cancer, diabetes, and other diseases
  • Ultrasound, x-ray machines and diagnostic tests
  • Vaccines
  • Improvement of medical procedures

Research Volunteer Participant Opportunities

WellSpan Health offers our patients opportunities to volunteer as participants in research at many of its facilities.  Volunteers are needed for clinical trials sponsored by pharmaceutical and medical device companies, as well as research studies developed by WellSpan physicians, nurses and staff.

Patients can search for clinical trials open at WellSpan Health at You can search by WellSpan Health, disease and location offered.  Questions about participating in a study can be directed to the WellSpan Research staff at 717-851-2223 or  We currently offer clinical trials in:

  • Emergency Medicine (York, PA)
  • Heart & Vascular (York and Chambersburg, PA)
  • Oncology (York, Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Ephrata and Lebanon, PA)
  • Orthopedics (York, PA)
  • Neuroscience’s (York, PA)
  • Pediatric Neurology (York, PA)
  • Pulmonary (York, PA)


Benefits & Risks of Volunteering

As a research volunteer, you have the opportunity to help others who may benefit from the results of the study in which you participated.  However, you may not benefit directly from your participation.

Risks may be associated with serving as a research volunteer.  Depending how the study is designed, the treatment may not be effective for you.  It also may take more of your time and be more demanding then if you sought standard of care treatment.  In some cases, there may be unpleasant, serious or even life threatening side effects from treatment.

Volunteer Protection

There are many ways that your safety, rights and welfare are protected if you decide to volunteer as a research volunteer.

  • Federal agencies enforce many regulations governing the way research is conducted with human volunteers.
  • WellSpan Health Institutional Review Board (IRB) enforces these regulations locally.
  • The IRB has policies and procedures to help the clinical researcher comply with these regulations.
  • WellSpan Health has many certified clinical research support staff to assist the researchers to comply with the federal regulations, state and local laws and WellSpan Health policies for research.

Questions to Ask Before You Volunteer

Before you volunteer for any research, you should have a clear understanding of what you will be asked to do.  All of your questions should be answered and, if possible, you should ask what your family members and primary care physician think about you volunteering to participate in research. 

In most cases you will participate in an informed consent process at which time you will go over all of the information about the research, what you will be asked to do, what information or samples will be taken and which tests will be done.   This is a good time to have all of your questions answered.  If you think of a question at a later time, contact the individual listed as the contact on the informed consent document for your research study.  If you ever have a question about your participation as a research volunteer, call the WellSpan Research office at (717) 851-2223.

Who Can Volunteer & What Does it Cost?

Anyone can be a research volunteer.  WellSpan Health offers opportunities for both adults and children. Some studies will be seeking healthy volunteers and a majority will be specific to a health question or disease process.

As a research volunteer, you are not charged for procedures, tests, medications, office visits, etc. that are being conducted only for the research study. These fees are paid for by the study sponsor.   Research charges cannot be charged to your insurance or Medicare unless they are part of your routine care for your medical problem and in some special cases, not covered by the sponsor.

Who Funds the Clinical Trial?

Clinical Trials are funded by different sources including, but not limited to: pharmaceutical companies, device companies, National Institutes for Health, National Cancer Institute, national oncology cooperative groups, national and international foundations, universities, and private donors. The level of funding can vary and sometimes WellSpan Health helps to covers costs not covered by the funding source.

The WellSpan Health IRB is committed to protecting our patients and research participants. To ensure there is no financial or personal of conflict of interest between our research staff and sponsors, we follow WellSpan policies based on federal regulations. Disclosures are made by the research staff for each new clinical trial and no one on the research staff is paid directly by the funding source to conduct clinical research. If you have a question or concern about the relationship between our clinical staff and clinical research funding, please contact the WellSpan IRB Staff at (717) 851-2223 or