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Incentive Use in Research: Protecting Vulnerable Populations from Exploitation

Author(s): Haruna Muwonge | Lawrence Fred Sembajwe

Journal: Arsiv Kaynak Tarama Dergisi
ISSN 1300-3755

Volume: 22;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 408;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Research ethics | incentive | informed consent

Global investment in Medical Research and Development has markedly increased in the last few decades. However, due to the decreasing public altruism, researchers have come under increased pressures from the funding bodies to produce results. Out of desperation, some researchers have resorted to using incentives as a means of sourcing for volunteers. Consequently, the research burden has disproportionately been shared among the most vulnerable populations in the society. Incentives especially monetary ones present an ethical dilemma because of the uncertainties’ surrounding the morality, amount and type of payment, vulnerability of volunteers and possible threats to voluntary participation. Several studies done on the use of incentives in medical research have noted that financial motivation was the number one reason for subjects to volunteer in Medical research. Mutual benefit and freedom of choice by participants were given as reasons to support their use. However, scientists who are against the use of incentives believe that they are coercive or undue inducements, and may influence a subjects’ ability to give an informed consent. Guidelines exist that protect vulnerable groups from exploitation, although none sheds light into the use of incentives. Nonetheless, in the face of the waning public altruism, the benefits of using incentives far outweigh the dangers, although researchers should avoid situations where their use may become problematic. As a mode of payment to research subjects, researchers should adopt a combination of the Dickerts’ Wage and re-imbursement models as guides in quantifying the incentive. [Archives Medical Review Journal 2013; 22(3.000): 408-417]
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