My Misadventures in Paid Research

I’ve been drawn to depression research studies in some hope that I’ll get in in the ground level of some breaking research that changes the whole approach to treating depression. Something awesome like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. I would do anything to get on a study for that! Instead I get the home visit nurse from hell and TicTac placebos.

I sign up for a lot of smaller research all the time. For things like “eyeglass website focus groups” and I never get picked (See post on Paid Focus Groups). Those usually net a $20 Amazon gift card for less than an hour’s work. I think I signed an NDA at some point so I can’t tell you who’s running this particular depression study, but considering how this is going so far… you don’t want to know.

The bigger studies don’t let you know how much the compensation will be until you’ve passed the screening. So I was very excited to learn I was going to get $450 for this study. Little did I know that I would literally earn it in blood.

There are two branches of the study: in-home nurse exams or visits to an independent lab nearby. I live in a small space so I was hoping for the lab. Of course I got the nurse.
First they shipped me two packages. I’m expecting the promised TicTacs but instead I get one box full of exam equipment (reflex hammer, tuning fork, blood vials…) and the second box??? A centrifuge.
Oh no. They are going to do blood work in my little room on my rickety TV tray.

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Centrifuge
EKG & Blood Pressure

Things go wrong almost immediately. The nurse begins the blood draw first. The foreboding starts when she can’t manage to tie the tourniquet properly. I’ve only had one other bad blood draw in my life but the nurse was so brand new she shone like a freshly minted penny. This one assured me that she always gets it the first try.

There was blood everywhere. Blood on my bed, all over my arm, on her pants, and I discover an hour later… on my shoe. And as she got more and more frustrated, blood protocols were completely abandoned. I didn’t have hepatitis before but I might have it now! Maybe I should have pulled a Dexter and wrapped my entire room in plastic tarps.
Just by sheer chance she discovered that it wasn’t me, but the defective vial. But that wasn’t until I’d been stuck 5 times in more and more painful places. I’m not even including how many times she rooted around for the vein at both elbows. “Boy, you’re a trooper!” Good grief, am I.

Still bruised a week later

The rest of the physical exam included an EKG; ear, eyes, nose and throat with the participation of the study physician via Skype; height, and weight. That went quickly but the damage was done. This had turned into a 3 hour visit.

The most disappointing part was that it was lumped together with the first 2 hour Skype intake visit so I only received $75 on the ClinCard they sent me, two weeks prior. I was told I’d receive money for each individual visit. I had made plans with that money. After the physical abuse I suffered at the hands of that nurse, I deserved to get my boots from the cobblers, laundry, AND two drinks. I don’t ask for much. I’m a friggin’ trooper.

Plus, I keep getting emails from NYC Blood Center about the blood emergency. I want to donate, but I can’t go in there with my junkie arm bruises. This isn’t going anything like I imagined.

Anyway, the saga continues this Thursday. I was promised yet another mystery package and no more nurse visits. Hopefully things go more smoothly from now on.

Links:

Paid Focus Groups

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