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Ethics & Human Research

Participants’ Perspectives on Payment for Research Participation: A Qualitative Study

ABSTRACT Investigators commonly offer payments to research participants to promote recruitment and retention. Yet the ethics of offering monetary incentives to research participants continues to be debated. Prior conceptual work has addressed some of these concerns; there is, however, also a need for empirical evidence to understand the effects of pay-ment on participants. Here, we report the results of a qualitative study comprising (1) discourse analysis of recruitment conversations between study coordinators and potential participants for an actual clinical trial and (2) semistructured interviews with participants addressing the effects of an incentive on their decision-making. Many participants reported that money had been a motivation for enrolling in the clinical trial but did not use reasoning that suggested undue influ-ence or unjust inducement. These findings add to a growing body of literature suggesting that payment is an ethically acceptable tool for promoting recruitment and retention in clinical trials.

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