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Frequently asked questions – University of Reading

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    We answer your questions about taking part as a volunteer

Frequently asked questions

How do I get to the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition?

The Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition (HSUHN) is based in the Harry Nursten Building within the University of Reading's Whiteknights Campus.

If you are driving, it is most convenient to use the Pepper Lane entrance to the Whiteknights campus (if using a sat nav, use postcode RG6 6UR).

We are based in the Harry Nursten Building (number 47 on the map) and car parking is available in P10 and P13. Please click Hugh Sinclair Unit directions 2019 for a map.

Proceed down the steps to the front door of our building and follow signs to the 2nd floor. The Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition is through the double doors to the left of the lift.

Will I need a parking permit?

If you wish to park in the university car parks, you will need to collect a parking permit from us to display in your car.

How can I contact the Nutrition Unit?

Please contact the HSUHN Manager by phone: 0118 378 7771 or email: nutritionvolunteers@reading.ac.uk

What are nutrition-based clinical trials?

At the HSUHN, we often investigate how a nutrient (e.g. saturated fat) or food (e.g. cocoa, oats) affects a person's risk of developing chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular disease, cancer or dementia). To do this, we monitor changes that occur over a period of time (from hours to weeks) using a controlled protocol. These changes are compared with a control group that have not consumed the nutrient/food under investigation. Often the volunteers are blinded (i.e. they do not know which of the interventions they are following) and sometimes the researchers are also unaware (double-blinding). Some studies also involve a crossover in which the volunteers switch to the other product following a short washout period.

I am interested in taking part in a research study, what should I do?

For information on current nutrition studies, please click here.

If you would like to join our volunteer database to be kept informed of future studies, please click here or contact the HSUHN Manager by phone: 0118 3787771 or email: nutritionvolunteers@reading.ac.uk. Any information provided will be treated as confidential and your contact details will not be shared with others.

What will participation in a research study entail?

Before taking part in a study, interested volunteers are screened (including a health and lifestyle questionnaire followed by a health check) to ensure they meet the recruitment criteria for a particular study.

Eligible volunteers will be required to come to the HSUHN for periodic study visits. The time commitment required will vary from study to study. The assessments that will take place during the visits will also differ depending on the specific study requirements. To see what may be involved, please click here.

Before taking part in a study, researchers will provide the volunteer with a participant information sheet and they will explain the study in full. The volunteer is given the opportunity to ask questions before being invited to sign a consent form to show he/she understands what will be involved and is happy for the researchers to proceed.

​What are the possible benefits of taking part in a research study?

Taking part in a study is a great way of finding out more about nutrition and nutrition-related diseases. During your initial screening visit, we will measure your blood pressure and collect a small blood sample from you, and the results of this health check will be sent to you.

Your participation will also make a valuable contribution in helping us to understand the role nutrition plays in the development and progression of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and dementia. Scientific findings from our research are published in international peer-reviewed journals and presented at conferences worldwide. Our research findings will also help to inform public health policy makers on the optimum dietary strategies to prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases.

To see why others have taken part in our studies, please see our volunteer testimonial section by clicking here.

Will I be reimbursed for my time and travel?

Many of our studies do reimburse volunteers for their time and travel. The reimbursement will depend on the requirements and time commitments of a specific study.

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

Medications such as statins and blood pressure lowering treatments are common exclusions for many of our studies. However, each study varies in its requirements and eligibility criteria. Before taking part in a study, volunteers will be asked to complete a health and lifestyle questionnaire that includes a section on medication. For information on current nutrition studies, please click here or contact the HSUHN Manager if you have any specific questions.

How confidential are my results and information?

All human research studies carried out in the HSUHN are reviewed and approved by the appropriate research ethics committee including The University of Reading Research Ethics Committee and the NHS Research Ethics Committee. The results will be strictly confidential to the investigators and each participant will only be identified by means of a random number allocated at the beginning of the study. Information obtained from the study may be published in scientific journals but only in the form of average values for the group; no results for individual volunteers will be published or presented in scientific meetings.

Are there any risks of taking part in a study?

All of our studies have received full ethical approval. Risks are minimal and will be listed in the information sheet for each study. Potential risks will also be explained to you at your initial screening visit.

What if my circumstances change and I need to withdraw from a study?

Volunteers are free to withdraw from the study at any time (even if they have already attended some of the study visits) and do not have to give a reason.

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