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In the Field
Motivated by Money? The Impact of Financial Incentive for the Research Team on Study Recruitment

We examined whether remuneration to members of the research team who recruited parents to enroll their newborns in one of two clinical trials being conducted in a neonatal intensive care unit affected recruitment or consent rates. The two studies had similar inclusion criteria, though only one of the studies provided modest remuneration to the research team if parents enrolled their newborn in it. Although significantly more parents were approached to enroll their newborn in the remunerated study, parents were more likely to consent to participation in the study that did not compensate the research team. Thus, although financial remuneration may have been a motivating factor on the part of the research team to approach parents about participating in the remunerated study, it does not appear to have impacted the rate of consent for that study. The research teams’ approach to recruitment, the strength of their expertise in the nonremunerated study, and parents’ perceptions of the recruitment approach are possible factors that affected the rate of consent.

Key words/concepts:  research ethics, patient recruitment, remuneration, informed consent

We examined whether remuneration to members of the research team who recruited parents to enroll their newborns in one of two clinical trials being conducted in a neonatal intensive care unit affected recruitment or consent rates. The two studies had similar inclusion criteria, though only one of the studies provided modest remuneration to the research team if parents enrolled their newborn in it. Although significantly more parents were approached to enroll their newborn in the remunerated study, parents were more likely to consent to participation in the study that did not compensate the research team. Thus, although financial remuneration may have been a motivating factor on the part of the research team to approach parents about participating in the remunerated study, it does not appear to have impacted the rate of consent for that study. The research teams’ approach to recruitment, the strength of their expertise in the nonremunerated study, and parents’ perceptions of the recruitment approach are possible factors that affected the rate of consent.

Key words/concepts:  research ethics, patient recruitment, remuneration, informed consent

Sharon Unger, Lesley Wylie, Shafagh Fallah, Lee Heinrich, and Karel O’Brien, "Motivated by Money? The Impact of Financial Incentive for the Research Team on Study Recruitment," IRB: Ethics and Human Research 32, no. 1 (2010): 16-19.