Participant Experience Toolkit

Participant Expense Reimbursement

Clinical trial participants often need to pay for expenses out of pocket to attend study visits while contributing voluntarily to the clinical trial. These expenses may include, but are not limited to: parking, travel to site visits, overnight accommodations, and more. The goal should be to minimize up front out-of-pocket expenses incurred, and when these are not avoidable, to reimburse participants as quickly and simply as possible.

Work together

Trial sites and sponsors should work together to implement strategies that minimize financial and time burden on the participant and/or their caregivers. Work with patients and caregivers when you’re planning the trial to determine potential solutions with respect to expense reimbursement. CTO has resources to help you engage patients and caregivers.


Clear communication from sponsors to sites and sites to participants on what expenses are eligible for reimbursement will improve the participant’s ability to make decisions about participation.

Reimburse quickly

For some participants, reimbursement of incurred expenses as soon as possible may be essential for continued participation in a trial.

Reduce upfront out of pocket expenses

Minimize upfront cash outlay by the participant whenever possible. For example, consider parking tokens or chits, pre-arranged, and paid for transportation, prepaid accommodations, prepaid expense cards. For some participants, this may be critical for their participation.

Recognize the impact on income

Reimbursement for expenses incurred and for trial participation should be clearly identified as a reimbursement, not income in order to avoid an impact on the participant’s income.

Recognize different technology access and ability

There may be differences in access to technology for participants. For example, even online activation of prepaid cards may be a hurdle for some participants.

Reduce paperwork

Minimize the reimbursement paperwork and process whenever possible. For example, petty cash options at the research site can reduce the receipt burden. Determine if original receipts are needed or scans/pictures are acceptable and if a reimbursement form needs to be filled out by the participant or if someone from the study team can help.

Reimburse caregiver costs

For some study populations, a caregiver may be required at study visits. Consider reimbursement for caregiver expenses where appropriate (e.g. Vulnerable populations, pediatrics, etc.). An example of this may be childcare costs while attending the study visit with the participant.

Identify and reduce other financial and time burdens

There are other types of financial burdens not quantified or compensated. For example, time for travel, time for involvement, arrangements for childcare, etc. Consider decreasing unnecessary in-person visits or allowing visits to happen at local satellite clinics.

Consider a patient concierge service

Organizing travel and logistics may be a lot of work for some participants. Utilizing a ‘participant concierge’ resource may ease the burden on participants both financially and logistically when booking travel.

  • There are a number of ‘for profit’ services that can be utilized by the study sponsor or research team when addresses solutions for expense reimbursement and travel logistics. Examples of these include Greenphire and Clincierge.
  • Car services can be prearranged by the sponsor or research site on behalf of the participant to decrease upfront costs and logistical barriers.
  • Site visit tips (the navigating hospital; best parking option; etc.) are often already found on an institution’s website and can be customized for your department to support the participant prior to an onsite visit.
  • There are service providers that a study sponsor can utilize that would decrease the requirement for travel to the research site for the trial participant. These include remote follow up options, in-home care and study visits as well as utilizing study satellite sites within the study plan.

Note: This resource list is not exhaustive and listing a resource does not denote its endorsement or promotion.