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Participants’ perspectives on payment for research participation: A qualitative study

Ethics & Human Research October 31, 2022

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Research Areas

PAIR Center Research Team


Ryan Greysen

Headshot of Scott Halpern

Scott Halpern


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 payment 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 influence 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.


National Institute on Aging
National Cancer Instiute