What other studies can I volunteer for, besides drug trials?
There are a wide variety of research studies and clinical programs that need normal/healthy volunteers, although drug trials are generally the most profitable studies that you can volunteer for on a regular basis. Other studies are either more difficult to find, or they involve less of a time commitment, which means they won’t pay as much.
In terms of time commitment most studies can be divided into two categories: “In-house” studies, in which subjects stay at least one overnight, and “Out-patient” studies, consisting of one or more brief visits to the clinic, which usually last a few hours or less. While it would be impossible to list every conceivable type of study you might encounter, here are some worth noting: ° Sleep deprivation and sleep research ° Time isolation – involves spending a period of days or weeks in a comfortable but solitary and windowless room with no time cues permitted (such as TV, radio, newspapers, clock, etc.). ° Virus challenge – cold and flu experiments ° Bed rest studies – remain constantly lying in bed for weeks or months to simulate the effects of prolonged space travel. ° Tube studies – a narrow plastic tube is inserted through your nose and down the length of your throat until it reaches your stomach, where it is used to measure acidity levels. ° Vaccine studies ° Cognitive studies – involve tasks which test memory, concentration, reaction time etc., often using a computer. ° Brain wave (EEG) studies – monitoring of brain waves using electrodes attached to your head. ° Psychology studies – these test personality, perception, behavior etc. and may involve completing questionnaires, performing computer tasks, or simulating social situations. ° Sensory studies – testing taste, smell, etc. ° Brain imaging studies (PET scan, magnetic resonance imaging) – these involve a scanner taking pictures of your brain. ° Visual studies ° Respiratory studies ° Consumer product testing – sample new products (food, cosmetics, etc.) and evaluate them. ° Bone marrow extraction – a sample of bone marrow is removed from your lower back. This is done under local anaesthetic, but may result in minor bruising. ° Skin biopsy studies – A small sample of skin is removed from your arm or leg under local anaesthetic (also a risk of bruising). ° Spinal Tap – A procedure which involves draining fluid from the base of your spine, done under local anaesthetic. It can sometimes result in a severe headache lasting for a couple of days. ° Dermatology studies – test topical medications on skin. ° Research into the effects of alcohol, caffeine or nicotine. ° Diet and nutrition studies ° Exercise studies ° Sexual response studies ° Blood and plasma donation ° Egg donation –
in the US it is possible for women in their 20s and early 30s to earn large amounts of money (up to $5000 and possibly more) by becoming egg donors. The process, however, can sometimes be lengthy and involves a great deal of hassle. Besides being healthy and having the ability to conceive, egg donors must be non-smoking, drug-free, emotionally stable, and have no family history of any genetic disorder.
Some fertility clinics disqualify those on any form of government assistance and some may require the donor to have medical insurance, though this may be paid for, in whole or in part, by the recipient couple or the clinic itself. A few clinics require that donors have conceived children previously to prove their fertility, though most do not. If you do manage to meet all the criteria you can move onto the actual screening process, which is similar to that of medical trials, with the addition that egg donors must undergo extensive psychological evaluation, including personality tests, and interviews. There will of course be a thorough review of your medical history, family background, personal details, and social habits, followed by a physical examination, informed consent, and an explanation of the lifestyle restrictions, possible risks, and time demands of being a donor.
In most cases (80%) donors are anonymous and information about them is kept confidential. If you are accepted as a donor after all of this, you then will need to wait until the clinic matches you to a recipient, which could take a few weeks or up to 2-3 months. After you are matched with the recipient, your menstrual cycles must be synchronised. Following this, you are given fertility drugs, administered orally or by injection, which induce the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
This happens over a period of 7-14 days. After this you are given hormonal injections to initiate the maturation of your eggs. When your eggs are matured, they are then extracted by a minor surgical procedure, which is performed in a hospital under sedation. The risks include a slim chance of temporary complications, physical and emotional stress due to hormonal manipulation, and potential physical discomfort. The entire process of egg stimulation and retrieval takes about 3 weeks to a month, and you are paid when the cycle is completed. You can donate up to 3 times total (even 3 in one year). A number of fertility clinics are included in the directory.