FAQs about Research Studies

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HNRCA Health & Safety Commitment

At the HNRCA, we understand that safety is of the utmost concern to everyone and our goal is to provide and maintain the safest environment possible in order to resume and continue our research study activities. We have implemented extra precautions for the health of our research study participants, visitors and staff. Below are some of the enhanced measures we have committed to use each day:

Symptom Screening Procedures

  • Study participants and all HNRCA staff are required to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure when entering the building. Anyone experiencing such symptoms is not allowed to continue into the building.
  • Masks, Personal Protective Equipment and Hand Hygiene. Masks must be worn to enter the HNRCA.
  • A new mask will be provided upon entry into the lobby and must be worn at all times by HNRCA staff, study participants and visitors.
  • HNRCA staff will wear additional personal protective equipment (such as eye protection) in instances when social distancing cannot be maintained (i.e. during blood draws).
  • CDC-approved hand sanitizer is readily available for study participant, visitor and staff use.
  • Staff and study participants are required to perform hand hygiene before and after all research and study related activities.
  • Building Capacity and Study Visits. We are limiting the number of people in our building and allowing only visitors scheduled for an appointment.
  • Some study procedures (including some prescreening procedures, questionnaires, and study check-ins) will now happen remotely via a phone or video call to help reduce the time of your study visit when possible.
  • Cleaning and Disinfection. All procedure and assessment rooms, as well as equipment are cleaned and disinfected after each participant use. All common area surfaces (e.g. tables, chairs, check-in areas) are cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day.

What types of studies are being done at the HNRCA?

Our scientists are testing many theories about nutrition, aging and health. Through nutrition and exercise research we study conditions and diseases that affect the quality of life and health care costs of older adults. These include studies of immune function, vitamin and mineral absorption, physical capacity as well osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cataracts and macular degeneration. Our research results have lead to dietary policy recommendations which impact millions of older Americans.

How long are the studies?

The length of each study can vary from one day to one year or more. Nonresident studies require study participants to make occasional visits (which vary among studies) to the HNRCA for testing or meals. Some studies require volunteers to live at the HNRCA for a specified period of time.

Can I participate in a study if I'm taking medication?

Each study has different eligibility requirements. When a researcher plans a study, they determine which medications may interfere with the purpose of the study or testing. Medications, such as antidepressants, steroids, and estrogen are common exclusions for many of our studies.

Where is the HNRCA located and how do I get there?

The HNRCA is located at 711 Washington Street in downtown Boston, adjacent to the Tufts Medical Center. We are accessible by MBTA (Orange line & Silver line  Tufts Medical Center stop, Green line - Boylston Street stop). Parking is available at a reduced rate at the Tufts Shared Services Parking Garage next to the Wang Center.

What are the accommodations like at the Center?

Should your study participation require that you reside at the HNRCA, you will be provided with a private, hotel-quality room and bathroom. Each room is a luxurious suite with a panoramic view of Boston, and is equipped with a television, radio and telephone. As a study participant, you also have access to a computer, Wifi access, as well as books, videos and games which are available in the Human Studies Unit library.

Can I leave the HNRCA if I participate in a resident study?

Unless a researcher specifically requires that you remain at the HNRCA, you may explore Boston or attend work or school during your stay. You must however, be on the premises for all testing procedures and meals unless special arrangements are made.

Are study participants paid?

Yes! Your time and participation are valuable to us. Depending on the length and complexity of the study, payments ranges from $50 to more than $2000 per study. Payments are issued by check on a scheduled basis throughout the study.

Who participates in our studies?

People ranging in age from 18 to 100 years have participated in our research. The majority of our participants are from New England, however, many individuals from across the continental United States have participated. Over 9,000 people have enrolled in the studies since the HNRCA's opening in 1982.

How do I apply to participate in a study?

If you are interested in participating in a study, please call us at 1-800-738-7555. Within 24 hours, you will be sent an HNRCA information packet which includes a brief description of the studies we are conducting as well as a medical history questionnaire for you to complete and return to us. Our medical staff will review your questionnaire to determine if you fit the guidelines for our research studies. If you meet the initial eligibility profile for a study, you will be asked to come to the HNRCA for a health screening. The results from this screening visit will provide you with valuable information about your current health status, and will be forwarded to your doctor upon request.