Over the years, I have participated in several clinical trials at the University of Minnesota. In my favorite trial, I spent nearly 2 years participating in a Dental Clinical trial at the University of Minnesota. In my most restrictive clinical trial I spent 18 months at the same university participating in a cholesterol trial.
While the studies were varied, the payment amounts have always been very good-always into the thousands of dollars. This is a great profit center for someone who is flexible with their time.
While all of the trials were different in nature, I discovered five similarities:
The acceptance process
No matter what clinical trial I participated in, I had to go through several interviews and pages of paperwork. The first contact is always on the phone. The institution conducting the clinical trial will always spend about 10 to 15 minutes asking questions and explaining the study.
The first visit will include some brief details and many confidentiality papers to sign. Once those papers are signed, they will finally explain the whole study.
Understanding the study
In a migraine study, I did not know if I had a placebo or the fabulous new drug. In the end, it was a placebo and the study was very challenging to complete because I had to suffer through a great deal of pain each time I experienced a migraine. I knew this was a possibility when I participated in the study and I could not take anything else, per the study contract, to relieve the pain. I knew what I was signing, but when it came down to dealing with the pain, I really regretted my decision to participate in this particular study.
When you sign the paperwork for these studies, you must follow through for the integrity of the study and to be paid. This is something to seriously consider before putting in all of the pre-study, unpaid time.
I have actually turned away from studies based on reading through the paper work. I read through every last detail, including all side effects before I put my signature down.
Next, the physical
All medical studies will require you pass a medical study before you can actually begin the study. Often, the institution will not state exactly what they are looking for, but often, you need to be in good health pass certain tests. Often, blood tests are taken and those results will determine your qualification.
Even when I participated in a dental study, I was required to pass a basic medical study. I had to have good gum health and needed a healthy blood pressure.
Once, I tried to participate in a weight loss drug study and I was not accepted because my cholesterol was out of the desired range, despite qualifying with every other criteria.
Time for the study!
All of those papers you sign need to be read and the instructions followed closely. In one study, I was not allowed to eat 2 hours before taking a medication. In another, I was only allowed 6 ounces of red meat a week. If you do not follow the exact instructions, you can be asked to leave the study and not be paid.
Most studies require you visit every few weeks. Sometimes they will pay for parking or compensate for public transportation. Always follow these instructions implicitly. Sometimes, other parking is more convenient, but you may not be compensated.
In most of the studies, a small amount of money was paid after the first visit. In other studies, small amounts of money were given each visit. In all studies, the bulk of the money was given at the end of the study.
To me, the key to these studies is to understand how long the study will take, how many visits I must make, the amount of money I will be paid and most of all, the medical risk.