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Participating in Clinical Trials for Dementia Is for Anyone

By volunteering for a clinical study or clinical trial, you can become a partner in helping researchers discover new ways to potentially diagnose, treat, and prevent Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

You may also:

  • Receive medical care and new treatments that are not yet available otherwise
  • Learn about the disease and your medical condition
  • Gain access to resources, such as educational materials and support groups
  • Help provide others with better treatments and prevention strategies in the future

Anyone 18 or older can participate, including people with dementia or memory problems, healthy volunteers, caregivers, and family members.

What Kinds of Research Can You Participate In?
Research involving people is called clinical research. There are two types of clinical research studies: observational studies and clinical trials.

  • Observational studies are designed to collect information from people and compare that data over time. This helps them learn how different behaviors or lifestyles relate to health and disease and to understand how a disease progresses over time.
  • Clinical trials are a type of research that tests new drugs, medical devices, surgical procedures, or behavior and lifestyle changes, such as exercise. Clinical trials may also test ways to detect and diagnose diseases and to better care for those living with diseases. Researchers determine if what is being tested, called an intervention, is safe and effective by comparing results in the test group to those in the control group.
    The Clinical Trials Finder includes listings for both kinds of clinical research studies.

Who Can Participate?
Nearly everyone! When people think of clinical research for Alzheimer’s and related dementias, they may think that only people with dementia can participate. But that’s not true! To produce meaningful results, Alzheimer’s and related dementias researchers need a variety of volunteers, including:

  • People who are healthy, without symptoms of dementia
  • Both younger and older people
  • People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, such as Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, or frontotemporal dementia
  • People who are identified as at-risk, given their family history, genetic makeup, or biomarkers, which are measures that could signal very early stages of disease
  • People with Down syndrome, who are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Caregivers of people with dementia
  • People from diverse and underrepresented groups, such as those who are Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and/or Pacific Islander

Each study has specific requirements for participants, called inclusion and exclusion criteria. Check the qualifications to see if you may be eligible to participate.

Why Is Diversity Important in Clinical Trials?
Researchers need participants who represent all types of races and ethnicities, genders, geographic locations, and sexual orientations.

When research involves a group of people who are similar, the findings may not apply to or benefit everyone. When clinical trials include diverse participants, the study results may have a much wider applicability.

Having diverse people in studies can help researchers understand how dementia affects certain groups, why some communities are disproportionately affected by certain dementias, and which treatments or prevention strategies may be most effective in particular groups.

This content is provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.

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