If you have watched any television, you can’t have missed the commercials for clinical research studies.  You might have one or more of the disorders that studies are advertised for – but have wondered “What is in it for me?”

Reason #1: Be on the front-line of development

Anyone who participates in a clinical study is helping to advance medical science.  Drugs in development require volunteers to ensure that they are effective and safe to be used in general medical use.  If it weren’t for volunteers, new medications could never come to the market as new medication is required to be proven safe and effective.  Without testing the treatment, we would never know.

Reason #2: Have your disease treated with the latest technology

If you have a disorder and enter a study you will benefit by having the opportunity to be treated with something that may be better than what is currently available on the market.  This is particularly useful in disorders where medication is not always working such as cancer, diabetes or mental disorders.  It is also especially rewarding in newly identified disease states such as fibromyalgia or lyme’s disease.

Reason #3: Medical diagnostic testing and treatment is often provided free of charge

All testing that is required by the studied will more than likely be provided free of charge.  If not, the center conducting the study should tell you of any upfront expenses associated with participation.

That being said, the majority of the simple testing such as urinalysis, laboratory blood testing and EKG’s will be provided at no cost as well as much more expensive and complex testing such as X-rays, CT scans, mental evaluations and cancer evaluations such as PET scans.

In addition, the treatment for the disorder will be provided at no cost. Any side effects or complications that occur while you are in the study may be treated at no charge as well, depending on the specific circumstances.

Reason #4: Opportunity for better medication

In some studies, with some disease states, this may be a patient’s best hope for getting state-of-the-art therapy.  This is most common in fatal illnesses such as cancer, where a patient may have exhausted all of the traditional therapies and they have not worked.  By entering a study, the patient has a better chance of finding a cure for themselves and for others that come after her.

Reason #5: Open-label studies

Some Phase III and even some Phase II studies have an “open-label extension”.  This is a guarantee that after you have completed the comparator portion of the study (new treatment vs. old treatment, or new treatment vs. placebo), you will be given the treatment that has been shown to be effective for a longer period of time – often months or even years.  During this period, you will continue to have medical testing and evaluation provided free of charge for the duration of the study.

Reason #6: Compensation for your time and effort 

Technically participants cannot be paid to participate in a clinical research study, however the regulations do allow for “compensation” for time and travel expenses, meaning that in many cases, the patient will receive some monetary compensation.  Obviously, the longer you have to be in the study – especially if you have to stay in the study facility, the more compensation for time you will receive.

Deciding to become part of a research study can be a big decision.  You should know that researchers, regulatory agencies, and independent evaluators have worked carefully to protect your safety and guarantee that you are treated with the best that medicine can provide.

Before volunteering, be sure to first speak with your physician to make sure that clinical research is right for you.