Frequently Asked Questions

Where do the studies take place?

Most of our research takes place at the Warneford Hospital in Oxford, OX3 7JX.

Can I stop participating mid study?

You can withdraw from this study at any time, without explanation.

Why should I participate?

Participating in a study can help advance medical research and potentially benefit millions of people who suffer from mood disorders. You may also have access to new treatments that are not yet available to the general public, and have the opportunity to speak to a medical professional about any symptoms. Finally, most of our studies compensate you for your effort and time.

How is my privacy protected?

Your privacy and confidentiality are protected in all stages of a study. All personal health information is kept confidential and secure, and your identity is never shared publicly without your consent. You will also be informed of the risks and benefits of participating in the trial before you give your informed consent. You will not be identified in any publications that result from a study.

What are the risks of participating?

Some research studies can involve certain risks, such as potential side effects from the experimental drug, discomfort from testing or procedures, or the possibility that the new treatment may not work for you. All of our studies have undergone rigorous ethical approval processes to ensure that risk is minimised. Any potential risks will be explained to you in detail by a researcher and thorough screening processes will eliminate anyone who will be at greater risk. Studies with experimental drugs have appropriate medical supervision and 24/7 on-call doctors where necessary.

How much will I be compensated?

Most PERL studies offer compensation for participants, such as reimbursement for travel expenses and stipend for your time and effort. However, compensation is not guaranteed for every study and may vary depending on the study. Studies reimburse between £20 (for a short one-off visit) and up to £255 (for a study including multiple visits).

Can I take part in more than one study at once?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to take part in more than one study simultaneously, however sometimes it is possible to participate in a study after your involvement with another has ended. Please contact the research team of the studies you are interested in to see if this is possible in your case.

Why are certain people ineligible?

All of our studies have strict eligibility criteria to ensure the safety of our study participants and the validity of the results. For example, the study may exclude people with certain medical history or include only certain group.

What if I am ineligible for all PERL studies?

If you are found to be ineligible for all of our current studies, please continue to check this website for future projects. Alternatively, please see the Department of Psychiatry website for more participation opportunities.

Can I participate remotely?

Occasionally we conduct fully remote studies. The majority of our studies involve in-person visits to the Warneford Hospital as a part of participation (e.g. for a medical examination or an MRI scan), though we will accommodate visits remotely wherever possible.

Can visits be scheduled out of hours?

We understand that working a 9-5 job can make participation challenging to schedule. Since we collaborate with many research and medical professionals, our visits are predominantly scheduled within standard working hours. However, in particular cases, out of hours scheduling may be possible. Please contact the team of the study you are interested in to see how we can accommodate you.

How safe are experimental drugs?

We use a mixture of licensed and unlicensed drugs in our studies. The majority of drugs we study are licensed drugs; this means they have undergone rigorous clinical testing to evaluate their safety, efficacy, and potential side effects and have been approved for use by regulatory agencies. All the drugs we study have undergone extensive laboratory testing, preclinical studies and early human trials to identify any potential safety concerns, understand the side effect profile, and establish a safe and effective dose of the drug.

At the start of any study, participants are provided with information that outlines the potential risks and benefits of the drug before taking part. Participants are then carefully screened to ensure it is safe for them to participate. Throughout all of our studies, participants are closely monitored for any adverse reactions or side effects, and the trial may be stopped at any time if safety concerns arise.

Overall, while there is always some risk involved in taking experimental drugs, our studies are designed to minimize these risks and ensure the safety of study participants. Before deciding to participate in any research, it’s important to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits and discuss any concerns with the trial’s investigators.

What does a MRI scan involve?

An MRI scan is a non-invasive, painless scanning technique which uses large magnets to image the structure and function of brains. It involves lying on a table in a large cylindrical machine for a short period of time. Participants are asked to remain as still as possible and remove any metal clothing or jewellery. Since the scanner uses large magnets, participants may be excluded from the study for having metal implants in their body or a history of major surgery. All safety concerns would be cleared by the research team and the MRI technician before any scan takes place. For more information about what to expect during an MRI scan, please read more. Our MRI scanners are located in several places in Oxford, please see here for more information.

What is a placebo?

A placebo is a substance that has no active therapeutic effect. Placebos for drug studies are often saline solutions or a sugar pill. We give placebos to a “control group” in order to compare the results in this group of participants to the results in the group of participants who received the actual treatment. This is essential for us to accurately determine the impact and effectiveness of a treatment. We use software to randomly decide who will receive the placebo and who will receive the experimental drug. Our research team will be “blind” to whether you have received placebo or not, and so will you.

What will happen to the results of the study?

We hope to publish the results of the study in the scientific literature. You will not be identified in the publication. The results of the study may also be posted on the Departmental and University websites and presented at conferences (again in such a way that no individual could be identified) and will be used to fulfil an educational requirement. We will be happy to send you a summary of the results of the study via email, or post if you wish. Anonymised research data may be shared with academic or industrial collaborators in and outside the EU to support further research.

For any unanswered queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

© 2023 Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, OX3 7JX