Scientists study and try different ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent human disease more effectively. The needed research may take place in a basic science laboratory, a clinic, or in the community.

In mental health clinical research, the term “clinical” means that the research involves persons in actual patient care settings. These may be inpatient settings (for patients whose illness requires hospitalization) and outpatient settings (for those who live in the community).

Some clinical research may examine how well a new treatment works?perhaps a drug or other type of therapy. In other instances, a clinical study might explore factors that affect mental disorders. These factors might include the role of genes and their interactions with life experiences in ways that might alter the chemistry of the brain and lead to illness.
In making your decision to participate in a research study, you should discuss the purpose of the research with the study director. Ask where the research will take place and how long it will last. What does the research involve? What are the potential benefits of participation? What are the risks? Does the research involve treatment of your illness? You will probably have many other questions for the researcher. Again, it may be helpful to write them down.

In the search for new knowledge, both you and the researcher will be trying out new things. If you do not know about the many safeguards that exist to protect research subjects, you may overestimate the risks of research. On the other hand, if you expect to receive only the most advanced new treatments, you may become disappointed.