How is the compensation calculated? Guide to finding the best paying studies for YOU
It is understandable that participants in clinical trials seek to find studies with generous compensation for their time and commitment. However, finding the best-paying studies requires more thought than simply going after the highest numbers. Compensation for each study varies based on how involved and intense the study is or what the time commitment will be. We recommend you as a volunteer to think about the numerous aspects of the study design and reflect on how they line up with your own comfort level or lifestyle when deciding if a study is right for you.
When you recognize that higher payment is often tied to additional restrictions or procedures – some of which are outside of your comfort-zone or abilities – you can see how finding the ‘best-paying’ trial is more complex than looking at the price tag. That’s why we, at BioPharma Services, have included a comprehensive guide on factors to consider when considering a potential study, to keep a balance between financial compensation and personal well-being.
The Study Schedule
One of the main factors you need to think about is if the study days work with your personal schedule. Many people do not have the luxury of flexible schedules and commitments, so if we get a trial where the dates align for you, it is worth giving serious consideration! An un-intrusive study schedule is rare and can allow you to participate without taking significant (or any) time off your regular work, and without the need to rearrange other obligations or plans.
Perhaps the return visits for the study fall right before or after your shift, or the entire study is a relatively short (2-3 day) commitment. These studies might not be paying $3000+, but there is no guarantee that future studies will line up perfectly or compensate higher either. The convenience of a well-timed study can sometimes make up for lower pay, while minimising disruption to your daily life. Moreover, you create the potential for a positive relationship with the research institution, which may lead to future opportunities with more favourable compensation.
Length of Study
Each study is different in its structure, and although we try to keep them short and sweet, many studies require a longer time commitment and multiple visits. It is good practice to consider your preferences and general availability: frequent short studies or one long multiple-week study?
Short studies, often lasting a few days to a couple of weeks, might be more convenient for those with busy schedules. They offer the flexibility to participate in multiple trials over time, allowing you to complete two or more lower paid studies in the range of $1000 to $2000 each, within the same timeframe required for a more extended study. On the other hand, longer multiple-week studies may offer higher compensation, but also require a more significant time commitment. You may need to spend a whole week or more in the clinic facility. This longer duration can be challenging for individuals with work or family responsibilities, so you should assess whether you are both willing and able to dedicate this amount of time to the study.
Partial Payment Schedule
For those who are hesitant to sign up for long studies, it is worth asking if we are providing partial payments throughout. Many of our studies will have a partial payment schedule for each period completed and give any remaining amount of the total compensation in the last visit. It’s a good way to secure an extra few hundred dollars – just in time for a surprise gift or night out – before the study even ends!
A partial payment schedule ensures that you will be compensated throughout the trial for the time and dedication you are putting into following study procedures and visits. This way, you do not have to wait until the end of a long trial to be compensated. Moreover, you receive partial payments for the time you completed parts of the study, even if you are required to withdraw early due to unforeseen circumstances.
Blood Volume Required
This factor is particularly important for individuals who may be sensitive to the volume of blood drawn in a short period. Many studies take around 150-300ml in total over the span of a week or two, which is manageable. Other studies can take over 500ml of blood, similar to the amount taken at a single blood donation.
It is important to assess whether your veins can withstand frequent blood draws and the prolonged use of catheters. Repeated blood draws can put stress on your veins, potentially causing discomfort or complications, especially if they are smaller or more fragile. You can discuss any concerns you have regarding this issue with the screening team before deciding to participate. Blood volume taken during a study also affects your lockout period – the amount of time after a study when you are ineligible for other studies – which is another factor to consider on its own.
You can learn more about medical screening process in the following blog: Navigating the medical screening process as a clinical trial participant
Lockout Period Duration
The lockout or ‘washout’ period after each study is the amount of time after study completion where you are prohibited from enrolling in other studies with us and other companies. The purpose of this lockout is to ensure we are not taking a large amount of blood in a short time span, and the medications have been fully metabolised and excreted from your body. Typically, the standard lockout period is 30 days for most studies.
Depending on the medication or blood volume taken, the lockout period can be 56 days, sometimes even a 6 month wait before or after a study. For those who occasionally participate, this would not be a major concern. However, for regular volunteers who prefer steady studies every few months, they might want to think twice about a high paying study that locks them out for multiple months!
Type of Medication
There are a variety of medications tested during these trials. It is a good idea to consider if certain products are outside of your comfort zone. Is it a psychiatric medication designed to address mental health issues? Or is it a cancer medication, potentially with more potent and challenging side effects? You might also encounter trials involving painkillers or heart medications. We will specify the medication given in the study for you to consider via our Informed Consent: its name, purpose, status on the market, dosage, and form of administration.
We will also inform you of the list of potential side effects associated with the medication, and you are free to research them before your screening appointment. It’s essential to be well-informed about the possible risks and complications that may arise during the trial. Do not be fooled by ‘easy-looking’ products, sometimes a nasal spray can have the potential for more severe side effects than an antidiabetic tablet. The dosage and frequency of dosing should also be taken into account. A low dose given once or twice in the first cohorts of a Phase 1 study may have a lower chance of side effects than full therapeutic dosages taken daily of medications currently on the market.
Special Requirements of the Study
Higher paying studies can also have additional requirements or restrictions for participants which influence the payment amount, but also your willingness to participate. Some studies require administration of the medication via muscular injection or IV fluids. While these methods are routinely common and generally safe, you will still want to gauge your personal comfort with them.
Many people prefer to stick to tablets and capsules, while others prefer liquid-only medications. You may also be apprehensive of studies that require special procedures like a biopsy or spinal tap. While we ensure we have specialists to carry out these procedures and minimize discomfort, it is understandable for healthy volunteers like you, who haven’t needed these procedures before, to pause and ask for more information on them.
Additionally, during your in-clinic stay, one catheter on your arm is expected for repeat blood draws. However, not everyone is thrilled with the placement of catheters on both arms for multiple days, as some studies require. This can be more uncomfortable and may restrict your mobility during the study period. In general, these procedures may carry additional risks and discomfort, and your willingness to undergo them should align with your personal boundaries.
Lastly, you should factor in how participating in studies affects different aspects of your lifestyle, and whether you are able to modify or change certain habits in order to qualify for more studies. Beyond the visit schedule and study procedures, your ability to do studies depends on your own eligibility as well. There are certain criteria that you may have more control over to increase your chances of being eligible for a well-compensating study.
Most studies will require abstaining from over-the-counter medication and supplement use for a few weeks before the start date. Hence, you might have to reconsider taking an Advil for your headaches in case there’s a new study on the way. Screening and study start dates also require abstaining from vigorous exercise for 72 hours prior to your visit. While regular exercise is crucial to maintaining your health, you may have to choose between doing studies or training for a marathon in certain parts of the year. Other lifestyle choices like nicotine or regular recreational drug use can also prevent you from qualifying for many of our studies. It is best to discuss your habits with our Recruitment and Screening team if you are unsure of how it affects your eligibility for a study you are interested in.
Remember that while higher-paying studies can be enticing, your physical and emotional well-being should always be a top priority. Ultimately, choosing a study within your comfort level and boundaries will lead to a more positive and manageable research experience. The best way to find a good study that works for you is to Register and create a complete profile with our Recruitment Department. This way, you will be notified of upcoming studies that you would qualify for, and you can discuss your preferences with the recruiters to determine which study is a good fit for you!
BioPharma Services, Inc., a Think Research Corporation and clinical trial services company, is a full-service Contract Clinical Research Organization (CRO) based in Toronto, Canada, specializing in Phase 1 clinical trials 1/2a and Bioequivalence clinical trials for international pharmaceutical companies worldwide. BioPharma has clinical facilities both in the USA and Canada with access to healthy volunteers and special populations.