FORT SAM HOUSTON, TX - Are you thinking about participating in a research project either on or off the installation? Have you or your unit been recruited to participate in a research project or study? Before you decide, there are some facts you should know and questions you should ask.
"Research is always voluntary. No one can be ordered into a study. If a Soldier or a family member ever feels pressured to participate in research, a local human research protections office or the Army Human Research Protection Office is ready to help," said Lt. Col. (P) Molly Klote, Director, Army Human Research Protections Office (AHRPO).
The U.S. Army Surgeon General was designated by the Secretary of the Army to protect Soldiers who participate as human research subjects in research studies. As a result, the Surgeon General created The Army Human Research Protections Office (AHRPO) to ensure that human research subjects are protected under all applicable laws and regulations. AHRPO is responsible for the policies, education, training and oversight of the Army's research. AHRPO partners with Army organization and installation leaders to help them comply with Federal, DOD and Army regulations regarding human subject's research and access to subject populations.
Research is vitally important to the Army as it advances science and technology. Researchers need volunteers. Research is conducted because there is a question we want or need to answer. While there are many types of research, most people are familiar with research conducted by doctors seeking cures or treatments for diseases. However, there are many other types, such as research on how we think and behave. Research may include surveys, observations of behavior, and testing, just to name a few. As with most research, it sometime involves risk. That risk may be; physical, emotional, social, economic, or legal (e.g., loss of privacy). As such, researchers are required to follow many laws and regulations to protect human subjects against unnecessary risks.
Soldiers need to remember that research participation is always voluntary. As a Soldier, you are never required to be a research volunteer. Soldiers should make sure they get the facts they need before they say yes and raise their hand. There is always a process to obtain your permission or "consent" to participate. It is typically a written form that needs to be signed by the soldier. Soldiers should read the forms. The consent form should be written in a way that everything happening in the study is very clear. If you have questions, ask. If Soldiers decide to volunteer for a research study, it is important that they follow all study rules. The rules are in place to help protect the Soldier.
Klote added, "There is a common set of rules that all researchers in the United States have to follow and the Army is no exception. In fact, we have a few extra rules to make sure the Soldiers are especially protected from undue influence or coercion."
Before a Study Gets to You
Before a research study is approved to let Soldiers volunteer, it will have many reviews. Most DOD research has scientific review and a review by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB is a group of people trained to decide if it is okay to let Soldiers be exposed to the study risk. IRB members look at the risks and the benefits of the research to make their decision.
Questions to Think About
1. Have the researchers explained the study to you? Have you read the informed consent form? Have the researchers answered all your questions?
2. Is there any reason you should not be in the study? Ask the researchers about study qualification rules.
3. What are the risks? Could you get hurt?
4. Will the researchers give you the results of any study tests?
5. If the researchers are offering money or gift cards to participate, are you allowed to take it?
6. Will it cost you anything to be in the study?
7. Do you need permission to participate from anyone? Should you ask your significant other, parents, or supervisor?
8. Are you feeling pressured to join the study? Who is pressuring you? Why?
9. Will you follow all the research rules? Do you have the time to finish the study?
10. Are you already participating in another study? If so, you should tell the researchers.
For more information on human research, or if you have questions, contact
the Army Human Research Protections Office (AHRPO), or visit their website