What is a clinical trial?
One way to earn extra money and help other people is to volunteer for a medical research study. Before a new drug or treatment comes out it must first go through a process of “clinical testing.” These clinical trials make sure that drugs and/or treatments are both safe and effective. Every drug must be tested before it is released to the general public—making clinical trials necessary and important for everyone’s health and well-being.
Depending on the research study you sign up for, you may have to actually have a current medical condition or a specific genetic trait.
You will have to give “informed consent” before beginning a clinical trial. This means that you will be given all of the information, including all risk factors, before you can consent. It is important that you consider all of the risks and benefits before signing up for any medical research study.
Before agreeing to participate you should try to determine what side effects you may experience and how unpleasant they might be. You should also find out exactly what you will be taking and/or what will happen to you. And definitely make sure that you can leave the study if the side effects are too much for you to handle. However, medical research studies vary and medications aren’t always involved. No matter what is involved, make sure you feel comfortable with everything you are going to have to do before you make the commitment to do it.
If you do have a medical condition you should speak to your doctor before agreeing to participate in any medical study. And, it’s very important to be completely honest about your health, past and present (including any illegal drug use) when signing up.
Some clinical trials involve months of visits and tests. You will often work with a research team. Make sure that you can commit all the time the study requires.
Check out this one-page brochure by the US government about joining medical research studies: http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/outreach/documents/Brochure.htm
Possible clinical trial benefits
1. Experimental or hard-to-get treatments. If you are suffering from a serious illness this may be the only way to get access to treatments not yet available to the public.
2. Excellent care. Medical care is expensive and many average Americans can’t afford good medical care. Clinical trials offer excellent medical care for free.
3. Doing something good. Without clinical trials many new life-saving medications and treatments would never find their way to market. This is a great opportunity to give back.
Possible clinical trial risks
1. Side effects. You may experience unpleasant or downright horrible side effects. All known effects will be told to you, but there is no way to prepare for any unknown side effects.
2. Invasive procedures. These may be unpleasant. Be honest with yourself and the clinical research staff—tell them if anything worries you before you begin.
3. No results. You may be given a placebo or the drug, vaccine, or treatment may simply not work.
How to find clinical research trials in your area
1. CraigsList.com. Find your city and do a search for “medical research” or “clinical trials” or some other combination of those words.
2. Local universities. Call any universities in your area or go online and search their websites.
3. Local hospitals or clinics. Call all local hospitals and clinics in your area. If the first one isn’t offering clinical trials, ask them if they know of a hospital that is.
Links to find clinical trials
Centerwatch.com is a site I highly recommend. This searchable database is one of the largest and most comprehensive global listings of industry- and government-sponsored clinical trials on the Internet. They also have a blog and an entire section of their site listing everything you need you know about volunteering for a clinical trial.
ClinicalTrials.gov You can find clinical trials anywhere in the country and even global trials. This site gives in-depth information. Plus, it’s very easy to do a search for trials in your area.
The HCV advocate lists clinical trials for hepatitis C patients.
Clinical Trial Search allows you to search by condition or location.
CISCRP is the The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation. Their search engine, SearchClinicalTrials.org, was created especially for patients, family members, health care professionals and members of the public. SearchClinicalTrials.org allows you to search multiple websites for clinical research in human volunteers, clinical study results and medical news. You may search for clinical trials by selecting a medical condition and geographic location
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center is a very simple search page where you are able to type in a diagnosis, symptom or any other key phrase to search all research studies being conducted by the NIH Clinical Center.
ClinicalConnection.com is an online database of clinical trials. You can sign up to be alerted when clinical trials become available in your area.
How much money can I make?
This depends on the study. Some studies pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for participants. But you may have to go to weekly check-ins, get blood tests, take medications, and deal with side effects. Some of these studies can last months.
And be careful, the more money you are offered, the more dangerous the study may be. But if you do have something wrong with you this may be a great chance for you to make money, help others, and help yourself.
There are hundreds of trials for just about every disease or disorder you can think of. There are trials for people to stop smoking or using illegal drugs. There are trials for people with allergies, mental disorders, or just people trying to lose weight. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial do the proper research first and then start searching.
Cara Bruce teaches online writing workshops at www.lifesabitchbooks.com.