Common myths, part 3

There are a lot of myths out there about participating in clinical research studies. Blair has made it her mission to dispel some of the most common ones in a three part series. Part 1 | Part 2

Blair's Picture during Pregnancy

Ask your doctor about volunteering for a research study

Myth: If I’m eligible for a research study, my doctor will tell me about it.

In truth only about 7% of physicians mention study participation to their patients. They often incorrectly assume that their patients would not be interested.

Myth: If I join a research study, I won’t receive the same quality of care that I currently have with my doctor.

Study participants should of course continue care with their physicians. Research is not standard care, but, research shows that people involved in study tend to do somewhat better than people in similar stage of their disease who are not enrolled, regardless of whether the experimental treatment works. All participants have opportunity to talk with study staff and have greater access to new information and possible new treatments.

Myth: There are already plenty of volunteers. They don’t need me.

New treatments and procedures cannot be discovered without volunteers. The time it takes to recruit participants is the single most crucial factor that delays discoveries being made available to the general public. Sadly, sometimes studies even close for the lack of sufficient numbers of volunteers to statistically study a theory. Volunteers are always needed to participate in research.

Myth: I can make a lot of money by participating in research studies.

Studies that pay a lot of money are few and far between, and those that do often require a substantial contribution of time and dedication on the part of the volunteer. The few studies that would fit in the “pay well” category are usually trying things for the first time in humans, often referred to as “Phase I studies.” These studies are typically looking for healthy volunteers with no existing health conditions who are not currently taking any medications and are non-smokers.

More commonly, research studies provide little or even no pay to volunteers. If a small stipend is provided, it is usually just enough to reimburse parking fees and maybe a few other minor costs that volunteers may have paid for to get to the appointment. If being paid is important to you as a research study volunteer, make sure that you discuss that up front with the research study coordinator before you are enrolled in the study.


Blair Gonsenhauser research recruitment coordinator

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Categories: Opportunities to Participate in Research, The Participant's Point of View

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