How do I find out about becoming a paid research subject in a clinical trial/medical research?
April 8, 2012 3:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I find out about becoming a paid research subject in a clinical trial/medical research?

I'm looking into earning some extra income but don't want to be taken in for a ride. Would like some national online data website or legitimate place to find out about clinical trials in need of research participants. I just think Craigslist comes with too many strings attached and would prefer if there is a legitimate online site or going to a university where I could find out more about becoming a paid participant. Where do you go out of all the information on the internet given, to find out about these trials/studies? If anyone has any experience/ideas on this like a sleep study, medication trial, focus group etc. Thanks!
posted by proficiency101 to Work & Money (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The government clearinghouse for clinical trials is Some of these are fairly routine while others involve a certain degree of personal risk.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:46 PM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I do a lot of paid clinical trials run by UCSF, and find most of them on Craigslist in the Volunteers section. Some are sponsored by drug companies who pay the university to conduct the trial, some are basic research conducted by UCSF clinicians. I suggest you look at Craigslist for your nearest university town and see if anything is posted under Volunteers, "Etc" jobs, or maybe Gigs. The description will say who is running the study, and where.

Often, big hospitals have a Clinical Research Department. You could also go there and ask if they have a "study binder", which has information about all the research trials they're recruiting for at the moment, but nowadays most of this is advertised on Craigslist (at least here in San Francisco). Personally I'm comfortable with stuff advertised on CL as long as the study is performed at a university or affiliated major hospital. Private clinics always seem a little riskier to me, but YMMV.

(Needless to say, there are some studies even at UCSF that don't seem worth it to me, but you have to decide your own threshhold for risk, discomfort, or plain old inconvenience.)
posted by Quietgal at 4:24 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's also Basically, you register for an account, fill out some basic information (health info optional), and then your info is put into a registry that researchers can search. Researchers can send you a note about their study if they think you meet the criteria for it, and it's only when you click the 'yes, please contact me about this study' button that the researcher gets your contact information. It's funded through the NIH. Pretty neat.
posted by wearyaswater at 4:58 PM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I live near a large research university and you can sign up to be emailed research participant opportunities. If there's a school near you you could probably contact their Institutional Review Board to see if they have a similar thing. There's also a private market research place near us and my girlfriend called them and got signed up to be emailed about opportunities.

Keep in mind you probably won't get a ton of opportunities, maybe just a few a year, since a lot of studies are looking for pretty specific populations.
posted by ghharr at 5:21 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do a lot of medical research studies. I only do ones conducted through hospitals and universities. Its easiest to find these on CL, but you can also just google hospitals and universities near you to find their research listings usually.

I'm about to enter the lab portion of my first sleep study at Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston. I've been screening for awhile (wearing a sleep monitor and keeping a regular 8 hour sleep pattern) and I'll be spending 7 nights in the lab and taking small doses of melatonin. I'll have an IV and a rectal thermometer and no outside contact, and I'll be paid about $2000.

I don't mind needles (or rectal thermometers...), I think this would be important to keep in mind.

I am always treated as if I am a patient of the hospital and not just a weird creep looking for cash (which you may feel like at first). Ultimately, everyone is very thankful for willing and responsible research subjects. Go for it!
posted by supernaturelle at 6:11 PM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

A few years ago I read an incredible insider's view of the clinical trial guinea pig experience. It was written by a guy who had become quite experienced in it. Hopefully it will show up in this thread soon enough.

In the meantime:
posted by intermod at 7:03 PM on April 8, 2012

I always see ads for such trials, conducted at universities or hospitals, in the free alternative news/entertainment weeklies. I even, or even I, did one many years ago.
posted by caclwmr4 at 8:40 PM on April 8, 2012

As you're exploring the world of clinical research, it's helpful to understand that there are three phases of clinical studies that generally occur before a drug is submitted to the FDA for final approval. Basically, these are:

Phase I: Often studies in normal, healthy volunteers. These are usually run at just one (or a small number) of clinical sites, which may even specialize in running these types of studies. If you have such a clinical site in your city, you may be able to sign up with them as a regular volunteer. These studies are looking to examine the safety of the drug, but usually not its efficacy (eg. does it cure anything?)

Phase II: Usually these are the first studies that are testing the drug in a population of patients who have the disease/condition to be treated. These are run at a larger number of sites, and enroll more patients.

Phase III: These are usually the big studies, run at even a greater number of clinical sites. Basically, Phase III studies are the main place to demonstrate both safety and efficacy of a drug in a large population of patients.

(There are also Phase IV studies, but these are usually after a drug is already on the market)

If you're a healthy volunteer, therefore, you're probably going to want to look towards phase I studies. While some of these are also done in patients (a lot of times this happens in cancer studies), most are looking for "regular, healthy" people (whatever that means!).

Good luck, and thanks for thinking of volunteering. My job involves running clinical studies, so it's always great to see people interested in participating.
posted by neurodoc at 12:12 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

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