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February 2, 2005

Improving Informed Consent and Enhancing Recruitment for Research by Understanding Economic Behavior

Author Affiliations

Controversies Section Editor: Phil B. Fontanarosa, MD, Executive Deputy Editor.


Author Affiliations: Departments of Psychiatry (Dr Dunn) and Economics (Dr Gordon), University of California, San Diego, and National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Mass (Dr Gordon).

JAMA. 2005;293(5):609-612. doi:10.1001/jama.293.5.609

The use of financial compensation as a recruitment tool in medical research continues to be debated on ethical grounds. Critics are against economic or market models, in which market forces determine payment practices, primarily because of the perceived undue inducement potential111 and on other grounds,1,12 including that participants from lower socioeconomic levels bear a disproportionate share of the research burden.3 Many of these arguments apply not only to the purest market model but to any model in which compensation to participants exceeds some threshold. We argue that economic forces operate regardless of how investigators choose to compensate participants. Thus, it is imperative that investigators acknowledge these forces and design compensation schemes that explicitly take economic forces into account.

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