Paying Human Subjects in Research: Where Are We, How Did We Get Here, and Now What?
Human Experimentation Policy Guidelines / Institutional Review Boards
Informed Consent or Human Experimentation
Economics of Health Care
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AbstractBoth international and federal regulations exist to ensure that scientists perform research on human subjects in an environment free of coercion and in which the benefits of the research are commensurate with the risks involved. Ensuring that these conditions hold is difficult, and perhaps even more so when protocols include the issue of monetary compensation of research subjects. The morality of paying human research subjects has been hotly debated for over 40 years, and the grounds for this debate have ranged from discussion of legal rights, economic rights, philosophical principles of vulnerability and altruism to bioethical concepts of consent, best-interest determination, and justice theory. However, the thought surrounding these issues has evolved over time, and the way we think about the role of the human research subject today is markedly different than the way we thought in the past. Society first thought of the research subject as an altruist, necessarily giving of his time to benefit society as a whole. As time progressed, many suggested that the subject should not need to sacrifice himself for research: if something goes wrong, someone should compensate the subject for injuries. The concept of redress evolved into a system in which subjects were offered money as an inducement to participate in research, sometimes merely to offset the monetary costs of participation, but sometimes even to mitigate the risks of the study. This article examines ethical and legal conversations regarding compensation from the 1960s through today, examining theories of the ethics of compensation both comparatively and critically. In conclusion, we put forward an ethical framework for treating paid research subjects, with an attempt to use this framework as a means of resolving some of the more difficult problems with paying human subjects in research.
The Journal of law, medicine & ethics : a journal of the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics 2011 Fall; 39(3): 543-58