Taking part in research can have benefits for your health, from being offered more time and extra tests from the healthcare team, to the possibility of being one of the first to benefit from a new treatment.
But it’s important you weigh up the potential benefits with the potential risks for your specific circumstances, including the risk of contact with someone carrying COVID-19, perhaps when travelling to the appointment or in the healthcare setting. Your safety is top priority when you volunteer to take part.
Here is some information on what research teams are doing to keep you safe and what is being done to help protect you from COVID-19 and other potential risks during your appointment. Please do ask a member of the research team if you have any questions or if you would like more information.
We want to keep you away from healthcare settings if we can
Instead of coming into the hospital or GP surgery, many people are being offered phone or video appointments. This reduces the risk of face-to-face contact with others on the way to the clinic, in the waiting room or doctor’s office.
You can also take part in research without leaving home
Many studies are asking people to take part in research from home. This can be through a video or phone consultation. You might also be asked to fill in a questionnaire online or through the post. In some cases, a healthcare professional could even visit you in your own home.
When you next speak to a healthcare professional, on a phone or video call, do ask if there are any research studies taking place that you could take part in from home.
Some patients may be able to have a ‘drive through’ blood test at a local health centre or have a healthcare professional visit you to take blood or other tests. Ask your doctor or nurse if you would like one and are in the groups of people extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. Many people are being offered fewer tests or tests in other areas of the hospital or clinic. This helps reduce the risk of people being crowded together while waiting for tests. Hospital and clinic waiting areas are very different from previously and should never be crowded. Let the receptionist know if you have concerns about the waiting area for tests.
Expect to see some changes
Healthcare settings that you usually attend may look different to accommodate social distancing guidelines.
All staff will be wearing face masks, which does make communication difficult sometimes. If you need to see someone’s face to lip read, please let the study team know beforehand so they can accommodate you. It may be difficult to recognise the staff you normally deal with and wearing a face mask may take some getting used to. Wearing a face mask is required for everyone’s safety.
Keeping you and other people safe
Healthcare settings are putting in place a range of measures to help keep people safe from COVID-19. Here’s what you can do to help:
- Call to cancel or make special arrangements if you, your carer or someone who you live with have any COVID-19 symptoms such as a new continuous cough, temperature or are feeling unwell
- Wear a face covering in healthcare settings, unless you are exempt. Bring your own, although many hospitals will offer you a sterile one when you arrive
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you arrive and leave a healthcare setting. Hand sanitiser is available at the entrance and exits
- Don’t bring people with you into an appointment unless they are supporting you
- Keep bags and coats brought with you to a minimum
- Follow signage and one-way routes to minimise your movements on site
- Take stairs where possible and avoid the lifts
- Follow the Government’s social distancing guidance
- Arrive on time but no more than 10 minutes early, so the waiting area is less busy
- Extra cleaning has been put in place, focusing on areas people touch and facilities like toilets. Let staff know if you have any concerns about cleanliness
Still worried about COVID-19 and your research appointment?
Your doctor or nurse would be happy to discuss any concerns you might have. They can talk you through what your research appointment will involve and any specific worries you have about your health. The research team will work with you to reduce any risks to your health. If you don’t feel able to attend your appointment, please let them know in advance, so the NHS can use the resources somewhere else.
We would like to thank you for taking part in research whether it was in the past or you are actively taking part. You are key in helping find new treatments and cures for existing and emerging diseases.