Why do clinical trials use healthy volunteers?

Clinical studies and advances in modern medical research have always required volunteers to take part. Without the participation of volunteers, the effects of techniques and pharmaceuticals in humans would not be known. Most of these trials ask for healthy volunteers, which might come as a surprise. Why would the trials not need volunteers who had a condition or disease so would benefit from treatment?

What is considered a healthy volunteer?

A healthy volunteer for the purposes of medical trials is a person who has no known significant health issues. This is important for those participating in research that tests a new device, a medical interaction or a drug. These people are known as healthy volunteers or clinical research volunteers. Some research will also involve volunteers who are also patients.

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Volunteers are essential because they provide trial researchers with invaluable data and information and their health background can be used for comparison purposes, especially when compared to those who have a disease or condition. The reason healthy volunteers are almost always advertised for is due to the new information and knowledge they can bring to a trial and not for the volunteer’s direct benefit. For information about Paid Clinical Trials, visit

It’s vital for researchers to develop a solid basis for what’s ‘normal’ and this is another reason healthy volunteers are sought. For example, when developing new methods for taking blood tests or testing a new imaging device, volunteers help to define what the limits of what is normal.

The healthy volunteers are needed to serve as what’s known as a ‘control group’. The characteristics of the volunteers are often matched to those of a group of patients, such as age, sex or family relationship. The same test is then completed on both groups, whether that’s a procedure, a drug or the use of a device. Knowledge is acquired about the efficacy of the treatment or the disease process by comparing the data from these two groups.

If you’ve ever considered participating as a healthy volunteer, you would be contributing to a process that has improved the health and lives of millions of people across the world. Medical advances happen because the research is supported by the willingness of thousands of volunteers to participate in clinical trials.

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The role of volunteers is vital for helping medical researchers to answer important questions about disease and helping them to build the basis of improved healthcare for future generations.

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