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May 18, 2009 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-05-18

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Monday, May 18, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Clinical studies see applicant increase

Some want to help,
others want the
economic benefit
For the Daily
In the past year, the number of
students registered for University
of Michigan Health System clini-
cal studies: has increased twofold
- from just 1,500 last year to over
3,000 currently - and the princi-
pal reason behind the increase is in
Feedback from University faculty
of the Michigan Institute of Clinical
& Health Research and from stu-
dents reveals two main reasons for
the increase: the unselfish desire to
benefit others and monetary com-
According to Ana Austin, assis-
tant managing director of MICHR,
the increased participation in clini-
cal studies has more to do with
mounting efforts to reach out to the
community than with the economic
The number of registered stu-

dents is taken from the estimated
430 studies that are registered on
an online bulletin board through
MICHR, according to Austin. Over-
all, there are over 3,000 active clini-
cal studies in UMHS itself.
"We've gone to health fairs, we've
done outreach campaigns in the
media and we've passed things out,"
Austin said. "We've done a lot pro-
actively to get the word out for all
kinds of studies - ones with finan-
cial incentives and ones without."
But, registering does not nec-
essarily imply participation - it
merely means the individuals have
made themselves available for the
surveys. The conductors of each
study are responsible for choosing
participants for their surveys.
Austin also said that while people
participate for many reasons, the
MICHR institutional review board
discourages doing so for purely
financial reasons.
At the same time, Austin said that
she thinks people are more likely to
participate in studies to improve
others' welfare and to have a per-
sonal stake in a particular area of
research than to reap any economic

"Financial compensation is not
considered a benefit of participat-
ing," Austin said. "It's really just
there to fairly compensate people
for their time, because we recog-
nize that often people have to drive
to the study site, they have to park,
and they have to take time away
from their job."
"(The review board) looks at the
compensation to make sure it isn't
too low, so people won't be unduly
burdened, but not too high so peo-
ple won't be tempted to participate
in something that isn't right for
Austin said that during diffi-
cult financial times, people tend to
look for new ways to pay the bills,
which may have been a factor in the
increase of applicants. But Austin
added that the primary reason for
the rise was increased advertising.
Austin says that a key part of the
role of MICHR in these studies is
finding the right participants for
each given survey.
"People take part for a lot of dif-
ferent reasons, including altruis-
tic reasons," Austin said. "They
might have a disease or condition,
and they might want to make sure

future patients can have better
treatments. They want to partici-
pate in some way to advance science
in that field."
She also emphasized that money
is not as significant of a motivating
factor as it may seem.
"We've made a big effort to reach
out to the community to let them
now about opportunities to partici-
pate," Austin said. "So I don't think
it would be accurate to say that (the
increase) is something that has hap-
pened simply because of the econo-
LSA sophomore Arik Alfi agreed
that financial incentive during the
economic downturn was not the
deciding factor behind his partici-
pation in clinical studies, none of
which were done within UMHS.
Instead, he participated in experi-
ments mostly in the field of econom-
ics. Alfi credited the opportunity to
help conduct advanced research as
the reason he first considered par-
ticipating but added that the money,
paid in cash, didn't hurt either.
In one University study, partici-
pants were guaranteed $5 per hour,
but averaged closer to $15 per hour.
Alfi remembered one study where

he made $40 in approximately an
hour. In another, he was given $30
after searching on Google for an
hour and a half.
Such high compensation is what
led others, like Nursing sophomore
Jillian Traskos, to participate in
clinical studies.
"I practically collect clinical
surveys!" Traskos wrote in e-mail
interview. "Personally, I love the
surveys because I get a little extra
cash without having to go through
the process of job hunting, inter-
views, training.... Paymentgeneral-
ly comes to more than eight dollars
an hour, which really adds up for a
college student who doesn't have
time for a real job."
Traskos, who felt the rise in par-
ticipant interest was directly related
to the economy, also noted that she
picks and chooses which surveys
interest her the most and which fit
her schedule the best. Traskos cited
financial incentive as her first prior-
Furthermore, Traskos wrote that
as a result of participating in sur-
veys, she has learned a fair amount
about psychology, sociology, busi-
ness management and UMHS.

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