The clinical research process

Clinical trials (also called “clinical studies” or “research studies”) help determine if medicines, medical devices, and tests are safe and effective.

Top questions and answers

Who can join a clinical trial?

Answer: Almost anyone can participate in a clinical trial.

Clinical research offers a way for almost anyone — regardless of their age, ethnicity, or background — to help improve human health and wellbeing.

Healthy volunteers often participate to help others and contribute to moving science forward.

Participants with an illness or disease join studies to help others, but also to possibly receive the newest investigational therapies and additional care and attention from the clinical trial staff.

Can I get paid for being in a clinical trial?

Answer: Yes, most trials offer compensation. Typical studies at Meridian pay anywhere from $200 to $4,500.

Most Meridian studies offer payment for study-related time and travel. The amount paid varies for every study. Studies often require several visits, each of which can involve payment.

The amount paid for participating differs among studies and depends on complexity, length of the trial, number of visits, etc. At Meridian, most studies do not require overnight stays.

Meridian is transparent about study requirements and potential compensation — you can ask about study compensation during your first phone call with Meridian, or you can ask during your in-office screening.

What are the potential risks or benefits?

Answer: It depends on the study.

Every effort is made to ensure the participant’s safety during a study. The ethics and laws that govern medical practice also apply to clinical trials. However, clinical trials involve investigational products that could be ineffective or cause serious side effects.

Clinical trials are overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Clinical trials also follow strict plans called protocols, which are reviewed by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) to make sure patient rights are protected.

Each study is different, but the informed consent process ensures you understand what will happen. You’ll learn about the product being studied, your role in the trial, potential side effects, and the visits required. In some studies, you may receive an inactive placebo. Meridian even conducts interview-only studies that do not involve medications.

Helpful Videos

Why join a clinical trial?

Get early access to new medicines

Clinical studies offer more care options for patients suffering from common, unique, and rare health conditions.

Help move science forward

Clinical studies offer a way for almost anyone — regardless of their background — to help improve human health and wellbeing.

Receive compensation if you qualify

Most Meridian studies offer payment for time and travel. We'll let you know what to expect during your first phone call with Meridian.

Give hope to people worldwide

Clinical trials offer hope for many people and an opportunity to help researchers find better treatments for others in the future.


Hear about the process and what it’s like to participate directly from past study participants at Meridian who have shared their stories as part of our #MedicineStartsWithMe initiative. Read more >

The clinical trial journey

1: Joining a clinical trial

To apply to participate in a clinical trial, you can either enter your information on the Meridian study finder page or call the phone number referenced on the study notice or advertisement. No matter how you contact Meridian, an enrollment specialist will be available to answer questions and find the most suitable study for you.

2: After you apply

An enrollment specialist from the Meridian contact center will call you and ask a few questions about you and your medical history. This phone screening will help determine if the study is right for you. Even if this study is not a fit for you, a Meridian enrollment specialist can help you find a more appropriate study. At this time, you’ll also be able to ask questions about the study process.

3: After you’re accepted

After a successful phone screening, you will visit a Meridian clinic for a physical screening. You will need to bring identification information to confirm your identity and medical history. This is required for every study, and is for your safety.

4: Informed consent

Each study is different. The informed consent process ensures you understand what will happen in the study. You’ll learn about the product being studied, your role in the trial, potential side effects, and the number of visits required. After you fully understand your role in the study, you may sign an informed consent form. You may withdraw your consent at any time.

5: Getting screened

You will receive a physical exam that will vary depending on the study. As an added benefit of participating, you may receive specific exams or tests — the results of which may be shared with you.

6: Medication administration

When you are given an investigational medication (or placebo), Meridian’s clinical staff will closely monitor your health. You may undergo additional tests to assess the medicine’s effect and/or to safeguard your health. Each Meridian clinic is staffed by healthcare professionals who make your safety a top priority.

7: Payment/compensation

You may be compensated for participating in a study. You can learn more about study compensation during your first phone call with Meridian, or you can ask during your in-office screening.

8: Following up

Some studies require several visits to the clinic. You may be eligible to receive compensation for your time and travel for each visit. Any follow-up necessary for the study would be detailed in the informed consent process so you’re never surprised by what a study entails.

Infographic: Clinical trial phases

More questions and answers

To learn more about clinical research, visit ClinicalTrials.gov.

Clinical trials are conducted to allow safety and efficacy data to be collected for new drugs, medical devices, or treatment techniques. Depending on the type of product and the stage of its development, healthy volunteers and/or patients enroll into small pilot studies initially, followed by larger scale studies in patients that often compare the new product with the currently prescribed treatment.

As positive safety and efficacy data is gathered, more patients are typically involved. Clinical trials can vary in size from a single center in one country to multi-center mega-trials across several countries.

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