Click on the below frequently asked questions to find specific answers, or scroll down to browse the FAQs.


Are you still recruiting?
Yes, definitely! We’ll be recruiting until October 2021 at least!

Even with COVID-19?
Yes: the OxSTEP study is an online drug study and takes place entirely remotely. Volunteers will take part from home and will have no physical contact with the research team.

Who can participate?
Healthy volunteers aged 21 to 65 years who have been experiencing feelings of social isolation. To ensure your safety we have some criteria that must be met for participants to be included in the study. We will ask you some questions to help us determine if you are broadly eligible.

If I’m interested, what are the next steps?
Before you begin answering the pre-screening questions, we ask that you read the Participant Information Sheet (PIS).
Then you can CLICK HERE to enter a brief pre-screening questionnaire to check if you are eligible.


What does the study involve and how long does it take?
The study includes one brief pre-screening phone call, one online screening appointment, two online research appointments – about 5 hours in total. The study involves computer-based tasks and taking a capsule each day for 28 consecutive days – these capsules might contain a placebo (sucrose pill), or a commonly used medication called simvastatin.

What’s the core aim of the OxSTEP study?
The aim of OxSTEP is to investigate how a statin (a medication commonly used to reduce cholesterol) changes the way our brain processes certain kinds of information as well as salivary cortisol levels.

Is this a clinical trial?
No, the study isn’t testing the clinical effectiveness of the drug so is not a clinical trial. Instead, the OxSTEP study is using simvastatin as an experimental tool to greater understand the role of inflammation in emotional processing.

What if something goes wrong?
If a participant in research is ever considered to have suffered harm through their participation, the University has arrangements in place to provide for compensation. If you have a concern about any aspect of this study, please speak to Professor Philip Cowen (email: phil.cowen@psych.ox.ac.uk; telephone: 01865 618311) or Doctor Riccardo De Giorgi (email: riccardo.degiorgi@psych.ox.ac.uk; telephone: 01865 618238), who will do their best to answer your query.The researcher should acknowledge your concern within 10 working days and give you an indication of how they intend to deal with it.

How much will I be reimbursed for taking part in the study?
Upon completion of the study, you will receive £150 for your participation in the research. Additionally, you can win up to £20 from one of the computerised tasks. If you withdraw before the end of the study, you will receive a pro-rata payment. Payment will occur via bank transfer.

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