Do clinical trials pay for travel?

For medical research to advance, the participation of individuals in a clinical trial is essential. However, accessing trial sites can present an undue burden. A survey about barriers to clinical trial participation found that the primary reason patients declined to enroll in a study was due to the inconvenience associated with travel. This is backed up by research from Deloitte, which reveals that 70% of potential clinical trial participants in the United States live at least two hours away from their nearest study center.

For individuals interested in taking part in research, finding clinical trial listings that are paid, providing virtual options, or offering some sort of travel compensation program can reduce the burden of research participation. Read on to learn more about how these compensation programs work and how to find them during a clinical trial search.

How clinical trials pay for travel

Some clinical trials will offer compensation to participants for their travel expenses. Often, this will be in the form of a stipend intended to cover transportation expenses such as gas or mass transit fairs, and certain trials may even cover the cost of air travel.

With the rise of ride-share apps, some trials have opted to partner with services like Lyft and Uber to directly cover the cost of a participant’s ride to the site visit, or offer reimbursement when volunteers book these services on their own. Some sponsors may also work directly with a clinical trial recruitment company that coordinates rides for patients, or work with a patient travel company that specializes in this line of work.

How to learn more about a trial’s travel program

For most studies, interested participants will go through a phone screening before they visit the site for the first time, which provides an opportunity to ask if there is compensation offered for travel costs. Before a participant enrolls in the trial, they will be provided an Informed Consent Form, which will outline all of these policies in writing.

Are there alternatives to traveling to a clinical trial site?

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, many trials have continued to make use of virtual or hybrid study structures to streamline the process for patients and site staff. Some trials will incorporate the use of wearables to monitor heart rate and other vital signs in real-time or offer routine check-ins via video call instead of requiring a site visit when in-person attendance is not a necessity.

Do patients get paid to participate in a clinical trial?

Beyond travel, some types of clinical studies will also offer other types of compensation for participants. Some trials cover incurred expenses such as meals or childcare, while others may offer payment for taking part. How much these clinical trials pay typically has to do with the type of study and what phase it is in; studies in earlier phases tend to pay more often, but later phase trials sometimes offer compensation as well.

Participating in clinical trials can provide individuals with benefits beyond financial compensation. Generally, participants are required to undergo routine physical examinations, which provide free opportunity to check up on general health. Some trials may also require bloodwork, EEGs, EKGs, or MRIs, which can also be beneficial, and many volunteers report receiving more personalized care as part of their study participation. Additionally, taking part in clinical trials provides access to potential new treatments, all while helping advance the likelihood of medical breakthroughs.

If you're interested in finding a clinical trial near you, use our search tool below to get started. Simply enter basic information about your condition, symptoms, and current treatments to receive a list of clinical trials that may be the right fit for you in your area.