Inform, Empower, Connect

Preparing for Appointments

Before taking part in a clinical trial, you will have plenty of opportunities to ask the clinical trial team questions to ensure that the trial is right for you. However, at appointments, you can often be given lots of information and it can be useful to prepare for the appointment in advance. On this page, we have provided information on preparing for your hospital appointments and a list of questions you could ask.

Although here we are focusing on clinical trials much of this advice is applicable to any type of doctors appointment. 


Before the Appointment 

  • Write down any questions you would like to ask in advance and bring them to the appointment.
  • See if a friend/family member can come to the appointment with you. Often you will be given a lot of information so an extra pair of ears can help.
  • Bring a pen and some paper with you.
  • Bring a list of your usual medications with you.


During the Appointment 

  • Write down the answers to your questions (or get a friend/family member to do it).
  • You may find it useful to record a meeting, rather then take notes. Ask your doctor if you can record the meeting on your phone or other device.
  • Don’t worry about asking follow-up questions or what things mean, doctors expect this.
  • Ask if there is any information/ a leaflet that you can take away to read.

After the Appointment 

  • Go through your notes. You can even make a pros and cons list. 
  • Discuss your options with friends and family if you find it useful.
  • Forgot to ask a question? Note it down as there will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions before deciding whether to take part in the trial.
  • If you are eligible for the trial and want to proceed you will be given information to take away with you. You need to read this information carefully and make sure you understand it before signing the informed consent document.   


It can sometimes be difficult to think of questions to ask. We have put together a list of potential questions which may be useful. You can also download this word document with these questions that you can adapt, add to and print out to take to your appointment.

  • What are the aims of the trial?
  • What are the benefits of taking part in the trial?
  • What are the risks of taking part in the trial and how likely are they to happen?
  • What are the side effects of the medications?
  • How long is the study?
  • Does the study include a placebo and what does this mean for me?
  • How will the treatment be given and how often?
  • Are there any initial tests before starting the trial and what do they entail?
  • How long will it be before I can start the trial?
  • Will I be able to continue taking my current medication?
  • What tests will I need during the study and how often?
  • Is there anything I can’t do while I’m in the trial?
  • Where is the study based?
  • How often will I need to be available and will I need to take time off work?
  • Who will fund the study?
  • Will my travel expenses be paid for?
  • How will I know if the treatment is working?
  • What if my disease progresses during the study?
  • Can I continue to take the treatment once the study is over?
  • Who will support me throughout the trial?
  • What do I do if I want to leave the study?

It’s that connection between the patient and the team and myself and also the interplay between looking after a teenager and their parents and the rest of the family I found really rewarding

Dr Sandra StraussUCL

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