Research studies are a type of clinical trial involving volunteer patients. Volunteers are commonly paid for participating in a research study, but this is not always guaranteed. In some cases, volunteers participate in a trial as a way to receive alternative treatment if the usual medicines or procedures are not working. Paid trials are typically open to a wide audience, while treatment studies require recommendation from a doctor.
There are two types of research study, which are then divided into separate categories. The first trial is an interventional trial. During an interventional trial, the volunteers are divided into separate groups and provided with different medication or treatment to compare which one is more effective. Interventional trials typically involve only two groups, but larger projects can involve multiple test groups. The other type of clinical trial is an observational study. In this study, all of the patients receive the same medication or treatment.
Benefits of Running Research Studies
There are several benefits for both volunteers and the medical community during a research study. Many volunteers benefit by getting access to advanced types of treatments that are otherwise unavailable. It often takes years for a new medicine or procedure to get approved, even if previous trials have shown promising results. In addition to getting access to new treatments, your health is also closely monitored during the research study. The research team is also made up of experts on the condition you have, so you may be able to get better medical insight compared to your previous treatment team.
Participating in a research study also has social benefits. If you have a pre existing medical condition, it can be difficult to discuss it with healthy individuals. While you are in the trial, you have a group to speak with who are experiencing the same condition as you. Volunteers can also provide advice to one another to make dealing with the condition easier.
Even if you are healthy and volunteering in a research study, there are still benefits. In addition to getting paid, you know you are helping the medical community achieve important advancements. Your participation in the study may lead to a significant, life saving advancement.
Payment for Participating in Research Studies
The compensation for research studies greatly varies depending on the trial. With most studies, the longer it goes on, the more you receive. More intensive trials will also charge more, even for a few sessions. Based on data from a 2021 study, volunteers received around $3,000 to $4,000 on average for participating in a paid research study. Some of the more intensive research studies, which last for several years, have a higher payout, averaging around $10,000 to $13,000.
When you are paid also varies depending on the study. Most studies pay a small amount during each session. If you miss a certain number of studies, you may lose some or all of the payment. In addition to getting paid a base fee for the study, some organizations will offer additional compensation for travel fees and whatever time you miss from work.
Risks Associated with Research Studies
There are a few considerations when signing up for a research study. If you are participating in a traditional research study, the biggest risk is side effects from whatever treatment or medicine you are testing. There are even some research studies that specifically track what side effects occur when a group takes the same medication.
While side effects may sound dangerous, research studies have traditional side effects you’d associate with existing medication. This includes symptoms of headaches, runny nose or eyes or fatigue. Before a research study is approved for human trials, it must go through numerous tests and studies to identify both short- and long-term effects. Human clinical trials are only approved when the medication or procedure in question is determined not to cause any severe reactions.
If you already have a medical condition and are approved for a research study to test a new treatment, there are additional risks. Before the study begins, researchers warn volunteers not to get their hopes up. While the treatment may alleviate their symptoms, a cure is not guaranteed. There is also a possibility the treatment has no noticeable impact.
During an interventional trial, you also cannot guarantee you will receive a new treatment. During these studies, the new medication is compared against the old one. Because of this, you may be placed in a group to compare the results of the previous medication.
There are also practical concerns with research studies. Many studies require multiple sessions, scheduled throughout the day. If you have a job, you are responsible for taking time off to participate in the study. There are also some studies that require longer periods of time to complete. For example, sleep studies frequently require staying overnight at a clinic. You may also be asked to stay up for an entire day beforehand for these trials.
Signing up for Research Studies
Finding research studies to join can be difficult. Oftentimes, the best way to get into a research study is by doctor recommendation. There are a few other locations you can go to find listings for studies. Some medical facilities, especially if they focus on research, will advertise when research studies are available.
If you are not near a facility, there are several websites where you can find research studies. One of the best sources is ClinicalTrials, a searchable registry managed by the government. It contains listings of active research studies throughout the United States. The National Institute of Health (NIN) also manages a listing of research studies. The website also contains instructions on how doctors can recommend their patients for studies. NIN also supports ResearchMatch, a website to help volunteers find research studies.There are also several smartphone apps to find research studies. As of writing, there is only a limited selection available. One of the more successful apps is TrialCentralNet, by TCN. It includes a searchable registry in 13 different languages. Another option is CT, which was developed by TrialX. CT works in conjunction with Twitter. You create a profile through the app, which then uses Twitter to scan for relevant research studies based on your age and medical history.