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IRB Policies Regarding Finder’s Fees and Role Conflicts in Recruiting Research Participants

IRB policies at 121 U.S. medical schools obtained from relevant Web sites were examined to determine whether the policies addressed matters involving investigator finders’s fees and role conflicts in recruiting participants for research. Analysis of the policies reveals that IRBs vary considerably in how they approach issues related to investigator conflicts. Most ban recruitment payments, but few restrict recruitment when role conflicts exist. While IRBs often acknowledge concerns about role conflicts, they seldom indicate how to resolve them. Because recruitment payments and role conflicts may compromise study recruitment and potentially harm research participants, IRBs should strengthen their policies to avoid unnecessary conflicts and to minimize the potential risk of harm these conflicts pose for research participants.

 

Key words/concepts:  conflicts of interest, research ethics, recruitment, payment, role conflicts

IRB policies at 121 U.S. medical schools obtained from relevant Web sites were examined to determine whether the policies addressed matters involving investigator finders’s fees and role conflicts in recruiting participants for research. Analysis of the policies reveals that IRBs vary considerably in how they approach issues related to investigator conflicts. Most ban recruitment payments, but few restrict recruitment when role conflicts exist. While IRBs often acknowledge concerns about role conflicts, they seldom indicate how to resolve them. Because recruitment payments and role conflicts may compromise study recruitment and potentially harm research participants, IRBs should strengthen their policies to avoid unnecessary conflicts and to minimize the potential risk of harm these conflicts pose for research participants.

 

Key words/concepts:  conflicts of interest, research ethics, recruitment, payment, role conflicts

Leslie E. Wolf, “IRB Policies Regarding Finder’s Fees and Role Conflicts in Recruiting Research Participants,” IRB: Ethics & Human Research 31, no. 1 (2009): 14-19.