Paid vs. Unpaid Clinical Trial Patients: Does Money Encourage Better Results?

It can be hard to find enough qualified participants to run a high-quality research study. While planning for your trial recruitment, you’ve probably arrived at this crossroads before: choosing between reimbursed clinical trial patients and uncompensated patients.

Is it true that you get what you pay for? Is there a positive or negative correlation between reimbursement and the quality of a clinical trial? Does a higher subject payment always mean better results when it comes to patient recruitment?

There’s no definite answer for which side of participants – paid or unpaid – will work best for your clinical trial. Many factors can influence your decision-making process. However, it’s always a good idea to start with a thorough understanding of the differences between reimbursed and uncompensated clinical trial patients. This will give you a better chance of completing a successful trial.

Reimbursed Patient Studies

It’s more likely for healthy individual studies to include subject compensation. Participants are more likely to belong to a younger age group, partly because of the money and partly because younger people tend to be healthier. Reimbursement for participants in this category comes in various forms: it can be through gift cards, travel allowances, per-visit stipends, meal vouchers, general participation compensation, and so on.

What You Should Consider

1. Implement adequate planning and screening processes.

Though it’s unlikely, there is a chance that if you offer participants compensation, they may lie about their eligibility to get into the study. It’s easy for some to get tempted by the idea of receiving monetary compensation in exchange for a few hours of inconvenience. This potential danger can be addressed by asking specific questions that require detailed responses during the screening process. While online screening questionnaires are both efficient and practical, electronic forms make it easier for candidates to lie. Phone screening removes much of this risk.

2. Think about increasing compensation.

When comparing reimbursement options, it’s important to note that an increased offering of compensation can make a significant difference in the ease of recruitment. Giving patients higher (but still fair and not excessive) reimbursement for participating in a clinical trial helps lower your dropout rate, which ultimately reduces recruitment costs.

Increasing your offering from no allowance to a small payment, such as $25-50, is likely to result in a dramatic increase in enrolment interest. This is especially true when recruiting for a healthy participant trial. Moreover, offering $100 or more further increases the ease of the recruitment process and ensures a higher number of willing candidates.

3. Spread payments over a period of time.

For larger compensation amounts, it’s better to pay in staggered installments to reduce upfront costs and dropout rates. Make sure you have a transparent payment system at hand. Knowing what’s been paid to whom, when, and for what can save you a lot of time and effort, and help you compensate your patients in a timely manner. It’s a win-win.

4. Look for ways to shorten the timeline.

Reasonable compensation can enhance the quality of data collected and the outcome of the research study. This enables you to collect sound data. Consequently, you can prevent compromising the results and even shorten the length of the study.

5. Compensation may lower the dropout rate.

Keeping patients involved in a clinical trial from start to finish is challenging. The greater the number of study visits and the more time it takes to complete a trial, the higher the percentage of participants that will leave. This can jeopardize the validity of trial results. What’s more, many of your efforts and valuable resources will have gone to waste due to the loss of funds and data from patients who do not complete your study. For this reason, giving proper incentives throughout the trial can help motivate participants to stay.

Uncompensated Patient Studies

Uncompensated patient studies are also common. In pharmaceutical and other non-healthy patient studies, participants may be skewed toward an older population who may have chronic conditions. (Of course, the study itself determines who participates, both in age and what medical conditions they have.) Generally, these studies include a placebo cohort.

What You Should Consider

1. Communicate strong reasons for why people should participate.

It’s not easy to find patients who are willing to make the time sacrifices needed to complete a clinical trial. Hence, there must be some good reasons for participants to join the study.

Some people might be motivated by the possibility of improving their medical condition. In this case, other therapies have failed to adequately treat their ailments. Others are eager to participate because they feel strongly about helping achieve advancements for a certain cause.

2. You may obtain more altruistic patients.

A sense of altruism is one of the strongest factors influencing a patient’s decision to participate in a clinical trial. Their intention to join a study is triggered by a desire to do something positive to further the development of much needed treatments.

3. Patients are less likely to fabricate information and symptoms.

While it’s possible to lie during online or phone screening, patients generally can’t fake medical criteria. Since motives behind joining non-compensated clinical trials are often for personal health benefits or altruism, participants are less likely to fabricate information or symptoms to be eligible for a study.

So, does money encourage better results?

Compensating subjects does result in easier, faster, and more reliable recruitment.

Though non-compensated patient studies do occur in the industry, it’s highly unrealistic to expect people to participate without any form of benefit, whether monetary, physical, or other personal gain. Completing a clinical study can involve intense procedures and requires significant effort and time commitments.

Whether the benefits involve financial incentives or travel allowances during study visits, compensation is a way to express respect and appreciation toward your patients. Letting them know they’re making a significant contribution to the research study helps develop positive researcher-patient relationships and increases participant retention rates.

 

Be it a reimbursed or uncompensated clinical trial, all studies aim to have more thorough research, as well as help cure or treat diseases that affect people’s lives. Having clear goals and objectives will give you better ideas of what it takes to plan, execute, and measure a successful study.

Are you looking for help recruiting for your trial? Schedule a free consultation with Trialfacts today to take advantage of our database of over 25,000 viable participants. Find out how we can help you enrol eligible patients to fulfill your recruitment needs.

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