Here is one question we get all the time: Do patients get paid to participate in clinical trials? The short answer is yes, we offer financial compensation to individuals who volunteer to participate, but there are many ethical concerns that clinical research coordinators and study sponsors must balance.

Paid Clinical Trials

In our current COVID-19 vaccine studies, volunteers are paid between $750 – $1250 because of a high number study activities, like office visits and journal keeping. This amount has been carefully balanced by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which has a formulaic approach to how much compensation is reasonable per activity. This is to put in place referees for the pharma companies who sponsor the research and ensure ethical protection of the study volunteers.

Patients should enroll in a study if they are interested in science, want to advance medicine, or want to help their community, not because they are enticed by the financial benefits. Most studies offer compensation to offset potential burdens that volunteers experience, like having to take time from work, pay for transportation, or hire childcare during appointments. Financial compensation is used to remove barriers to participate, rather than to encourage patients to volunteer in the first place.

Enforcing Ethical Safeguards

Clinical research in 2021 is under intense scrutiny. Catastrophes like the Tuskegee experiment are fresh in people’s minds when it comes to research involving human volunteers. Over the last several decades, extensive safeguards have been put in place to protect the human rights of study participants, notably the Belmont Report, Nuremburg Code, and Helsinki Accords, which codified informed consent and many other protections for clinical trial patients. One of the most important safeguards is that participation must be entirely voluntarily. Excessive payments to patients are considered coercive and unacceptable by today’s standards.

Researchers should rely on other methods to recruit for clinical studies, because there are plenty of excellent reasons to volunteer. Volunteering can help bring a new medicine to market that can save lives. In the case of vaccine clinical studies, volunteering can help prevent millions of people from getting sick. Patients in clinical trials also receive dedicated specialty care from the doctors and nurses who administer the study.

Clinical study participants are often intelligent, selfless, and altruistically driven individuals who want to make the world a better, healthier place. Thanks to study volunteers in Nashville and all over the world, we now have authorized vaccines that protect against COVID-19. As one patient in our COVID-19 vaccine study eloquently said, “If you can make a difference, why wouldn’t you?”

How to Enroll

You can sign up to enroll in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial here

For more information, visit our frequently asked questions page here.

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