IRB: Ethics & Human Research

Protecting People Who Decline to Participate in Research: An Example from a Prison Setting

Although there is great concern about protecting those who participate in research, little if any concern has been expressed in the literature about protecting “decliners”—individuals who were invited to participate, but did not. However, there are several situations in which potential participants may experience negative consequences if they choose not to participate—for example, the prison setting, where the power imbalance is obvious and the history of research is not a positive one. We offer several options to protect decliners from possible adverse consequences.

Key words/concepts: human subjects research, research ethics, research oversight, vulnerable populations

Paul G. Stiles, Monica Epstein, Norman Poythress, and John F. Edens, “Protecting People Who Decline to Participate in Research: An Example from a Prison Setting,” IRB: Ethics & Human Research 34, no. 2 (2012): 15-18.

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