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$200 consulting opportunity . . . for all of you!

I received the following unsolicited email from with subject line: “Invitation to consult on research regarding wound complications resulting from surgery.” I’m sure that any of you could respond. See below:

Dear Dr. Andrew Gelman,

MedQuery, a national medical market research company, would like to invite you to consult on an upcoming research study regarding Wound Complications resulting from Surgery. We are conducting 60 minute online surveys covered over a 2 day period (this can be done at your convenience on May 11th and 12th). We encourage you to please sign up at your earliest convenience in order to reserve your spot. In appreciation of your valuable time and opinions we are offering an honorarium of $200. (INCREASE HONORARIUM – was $150)

In an effort to make the sign-up/appointment setting process more convenient for you, you are now able to schedule yourself, to do so please click the link below. You will be asked to complete a very short qualifying survey (what is typically done over the phone); from there you will enter your contact information and select your appointment from the remaining available times. You will receive an email confirming your appointment. We will also be in touch to re-confirm the day before your appointment.

OR if you would prefer to sign-up via phone, please call 877-666-8863 and refer to job code #9620

Should you know somebody else who would fit this study please pass on this email. If you would like to learn more about MedQuery, please visit our website

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Best regards,
Kyria Kalata
312.698-4388 (direct line)
877.666.8863 (toll free)

Weird stuff.


  1. Ken says:

    This is great– finally someone willing to pay a reasonable hourly rate for answering a questionnaire!

    But how will they use the info? "Four out of 5 statisticians agree…?"

  2. Avicenna says:

    Based on the included link, it appears they are looking for surgeons rather than statisticians.

  3. michmill says:

    This is a huge industry. It targets doctors, and some of it is market research, while other parts are thinly-veiled attempts to sell some new product. Companies maintain large databases of "opinion-leaders" in all medical fields and then send them very lucrative surveys.

  4. Igor says:

    It's a market research company that's building a panel of surgeons to sell.

  5. Andrew Gelman says:

    It definitely looks like some sort of scam to me. I mean, who goes around emailing perfect strangers offering them $200 for an hour of their time? I guess this is one reason for the "spiraling costs of health care"!

  6. Ken Williams says:

    @Avicenna – not surprising; for our recent Data Mining job posting in our group, we've had some odd applicants, including an Opthamologist.

  7. Keith O'Rourke says:

    Actually some clinical research funding agencies have (I believe successfully) argued that paying incentives for individuals to respond to well designed surveys is not only ethical but very cost effective in reducing the costs of health care via less biased research results.

    But its likley not the case here unless they somehow mistook you as being a surgeon (how many surgeons are named Andrew Gelman)


  8. Andrew Gelman says:

    Keith: I strongly agree that survey respondents should be paid. But $200/hour seems like a bit much.

  9. William Ockham says:

    I am married to a physician and I can vouch for the fact that this is not unusual for companies trying to get the attention of medical doctors. I think they have you confused with another Dr. Gellman.

  10. Dan G says:

    If their target are physicians, $200 probably wouldn't be that uncommmon. I've seen physicians offered $100 for a 15-20 minute paper and pencil questionnaire for research sponsored by well respected foundations. Alot of physicians just won't bother for less.

  11. Hello,
    I indeed work for MedQuery. Forst I would like to address the first comment, we are NOT building a panel to sell. We are a medical market research company and we have bought panels in the past and htat is how we have "strangers" to email and offer honorariums to. Physicians can average anywhere from 200-600 for certain studies depending on the reserch and client is willing to pay.
    If you are a physician (as hte later commented) this is not unusual but sutomary for hteir time. If you ae indeed not a physician, but received an email from us stating you were chances are we received your emial in error.

    Carolyn Nichols

  12. peggy jackson says:

    Is this study for physicians only or for anyone who has had problems after surgery?

  13. MD- Mo says:

    Physicians especially those in primary care and surgery are often offered these surveys that are quite high in their honorarium. 200/hr is usually the standard rate. 20 minutes for 75.00. I just completed one on cancer testing. These are obviously paid by pharmaceutical or research companies that have the money to pay, and is not directly (maybe indirectly) related to the cost of health care. Physician time, after 250k in medical school expenses, residency/fellowship training, is worth a little more than the average high school grad.