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Do I get paid for participating in a research study?

It depends!

Payment in research is usually called “compensation” or “incentives”. There are different incentives for different studies. Participants are the most important part of every study; researchers know you choose to volunteer in addition to all your other responsibilities. Whenever possible, it is a priority to provide you with something as a thank you for your time, effort, and partnership in the research.

The compensation or incentive depends on what will be asked of you or on what may be useful to you related to a specific topic or condition. Some studies are longer and require many visits, so they may have a larger incentive. Sometimes, the incentive isn’t money. For example, an exercise study might involve free personal training. Or a study may offer alternative treatment options for a disease, condition, or illness. It might even offer usual treatment options to learn something more about them. Other studies, like short online surveys, don’t always offer an incentive but give you a chance to give your opinions, your knowledge, or your time to a subject you care about or are interested in. Researchers are always grateful for the volunteers that participate.

Compensation and incentives come in many different forms and can include:

  • Cash, gift cards, reloadable debit cards
  • Parking passes or gas cards
  • Reimbursement for travel
  • No cost study medication, procedures, or exams
  • Information or health results based on your specific participation
  • Information on the results of the study itself at the end
  • Equipment (ex. home blood pressure monitor)
  • Tote bags, water bottles, or other items
  • Fitbit, iPad, or other technology
  • Lots of other options!

How and when you get this compensation is also different for every study. Sometimes researchers give you the whole incentive at the end of your participation (one $500 gift card). Other times, you might get smaller amounts at each visit or after each activity spread out over the whole study ($100 at every visit for 5 visits).

People participate in research for lots of reasons. You should always carefully consider why a topic is important to you, any risks or benefits involved, the time commitment, and the other activities you’ll be asked to complete. The compensation should always be the “thank you” for your participation, rather than the reason to join.

If you have any questions about payment for a specific study, just ask the study team!

22 August 2022

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