When you are involved in psychological research or a clinical trial, you can gain access to the results of the study — in the form of a published journal article — when the study has been completed.
In most informed consent forms, the researcher promises to share what is learned from the study with you. These results will sum up the responses of everyone who took part in the study. In addition, the researcher will discuss with you any results that relate to your diagnosis or that may be useful in deciding on the best treatment for your disorder.
Be sure to ask the director of research when you can expect to hear about the results. Ask how you will get this information. Will the researcher write an article describing the study, or will those who took part be invited to a meeting with the study director when all the results are in? If you have questions about the results when you receive them, ask the researcher who can help you to understand what they mean.
A frustrating thing about research is that it often takes years before the results of a study are available. This is because of the time it takes to conduct the study, including getting enough people in the study to make the results meaningful. Be patient, but remember to ask for the results if you have not received them when you expected them.
Not all research studies or clinical trials make it to publication. Some studies fail to find significance in the data. Such studies are rarely published, meaning that the results will not be available to you or the general public. This can happen about 30 to 50 percent of the time in clinical trials, and a little less often in psychology research.
Research studies can be difficult to read, understand, and interpret. You can get help in interpreting research you’re interested in by asking other empowered patients like yourself (who are better-versed in understanding statistics and research), or by asking another researcher or psychologist.