EXPLOITATION IN PAYMENTS TO RESEARCH SUBJECTS
Article first published online: 21 APR 2009
© 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Volume 25, Issue 4, pages 209–219, May 2011
How to Cite
PHILLIPS, T. (2011), EXPLOITATION IN PAYMENTS TO RESEARCH SUBJECTS. Bioethics, 25: 209–219. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2009.01717.x
- Issue published online: 21 APR 2009
- Article first published online: 21 APR 2009
- research ethics;
- clinical trials;
- undue inducements;
Offering cash payments to research subjects is a common recruiting method but there is significant debate about whether and in what amount such payments are appropriate. This paper is concerned with exploitation and whether there should be a lower limit on the amount researchers can pay their subjects. When subjects participate in research as a way to make money, fairness requires that researchers pay them a fair wage. This call for the establishment of a lower limit meets resistance in two places: (1) denial that the payments offered by researchers are wages for participation; and (2) concern about undue inducement. This paper critically examines these arguments for and against a lower limit. It shows that the need for a lower limit cannot be avoided by adopting a non-wage payment model and that concerns about undue inducement are unjustified in all trials except those that present greater than minimal risk. This analysis suggests the following compromise position: there should be an unconditional lower limit on payment amounts so that researchers cannot offer less than a fair wage, and when researchers cannot satisfy this limit because fairness requires a problematically large payment, then researchers should offer no payment at all.