IRB: Ethics & Human Research

Financial Payments for Participating in Research While Incarcerated: Attitudes of Prisoners

Abstract: The practice of paying prisoners to for their participation in research has long been debated, and the controversy is reflected in the differing policies in the U.S. prison systems. Empirical study of financial payments to inmates who enroll in research has focused on whether this practice is coercive. In this study, we examined whether monetary incentives have the potential to be unduly influential among fifty HIV-positive prisoners. The majority of prisoners surveyed believed that inmates should receive some compensation for their involvement in research and disagreed with statements suggesting that the offer of payment constitutes undue influence. However, a sense of potentially being susceptible to undue influence was significantly higher among participants who had spent a longer time in prison and had less education. Overall, our findings suggest that most prisoners feel that they would be able to make a decision about research enrollment that is not solely based on an offer of monetary payment.

Keywords: human subjects research, undue influence, coercion, prisoners, financial incentives, compensation for research participation, HIV-positive prisoners, vulnerable populations