Controversies Section Editor: Phil B. Fontanarosa,
MD, Executive Deputy Editor.
Author Affiliation: John P. McGovern, MD, Center
for Health, Humanities, and the Human Spirit, University of Texas Medical
The question of how to foster and reward research participation has
2 basic facets. One involves examining the issue from the perspective of the
needs and traditions of research per se. A second facet, often neglected in
discourse on the matter, is the influence of research compensation decisions
on the fabric of medicine itself, particularly when it creates financial exchanges
between investigators and participants. This article engages these intertwined
The article by Dunn and Gordon1 draws
attention to the difficult problem of recruiting research participants whose
collective backgrounds mirror the population being examined. The authors maintain
that the level of monetary compensation influences the participant sample
created by investigators to study, which in turn requires a payment schedule
that draws individuals from different income strata into given research projects.
The authors do not indicate how they would determine compensation sums or
convincingly deal with whether increased financial payments might exaggerate
instead of diminish the overrepresentation of individuals from lower-income
strata who, they argue, are disproportionately represented in many scientific
studies. However, their article does point out a need to examine the generic
issue of research compensation.
Reiser SJ. Research Compensation and the Monetarization of Medicine. JAMA. 2005;293(5):613-614. doi:10.1001/jama.293.5.613