What's It Like: To be a part of medical research?

A healthy control is a person in good health who participates in medical research. During an experiment, researchers need samples from healthy controls that they can use to compare to the data of the people they're studying.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: September 30, 2012

Why be a healthy control?

A healthy control is a person in good health who participates in medical research. During an experiment, researchers need samples from healthy controls that they can use to compare to the data of the people they're studying.

To begin a study, researchers will recruit people with an ailment they're studying. People of the same age range, race and sex will be needed to serve as the recruited participants' healthy controls.

Some research facilities have active healthy control programs, and you can sign up at those facilities to be a healthy control in case they ever need you. Generally, people who are healthy and between the ages of 18 and 75 can serve as healthy controls.

Before you sign up, it's important to understand what type of research you're contributing to and how your sample will be used. You might want to ask whether your sample will be used for only one specific experiment or whether the facility keeps your blood for future research.

People who serve as healthy controls might volunteer because they want to contribute to science or know someone who has suffered the disease being studied. When you serve as a healthy control, you might be compensated for your time, depending on how far you travel to contribute.

What happens when you're a healthy control?

The specifics of what happens will depend somewhat on what type of experiment you're helping with. Often times, you will fill out some paperwork, your blood will be drawn and you'll be finished.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, medicine and fitness, among other things. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a news-editorial and broadcast production degree. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her bike, taking pictures of...
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