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Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 1403–1409 | Cite as

Perceptions of Financial Payment for Research Participation among African-American Drug Users in HIV Studies

  • Jacquelyn SlomkaEmail author
  • Sheryl McCurdy
  • Eric A. Ratliff
  • Sandra Timpson
  • Mark L. Williams
Original COntributions

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Financial compensation for participating in research is controversial, especially when participants are recruited from economically disadvantaged and/or marginalized populations such as drug users. Little is known about these participants’ own views regarding payment for research participation.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of the study was to elicit underserved minority drug users’ views about monetary payments for participating in research.

DESIGN

Semi-structured in-depth interview study of motivations for and perceptions of participation in research was used.

PARTICIPANTS

Thirty-seven adult, economically disadvantaged African-American crack cocaine smokers were the participants of the study.

APPROACH

Participants were recruited from among those taking part in three HIV prevention studies. Interviews were conducted at one of 2 research field offices located in underserved minority neighborhoods in Houston, Texas. Interviews lasting 30–45 min were recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed for categories and themes using both conventional and directed qualitative content analysis. This report addresses themes under the broad category of financial motivations for participating in research.

RESULTS

Participants viewed monetary payment for research as essential to attract participation and desirable to provide optional income. Payment for research participation was perceived as one potential income source among others. Participants considered self-determination a prerogative for themselves and others. They rejected the notion of payment for participation as encouraging drug use or as inducing risk taking.

CONCLUSIONS

Research regulators should consider participants’ views of their desires and capacity for autonomous decisions about financial compensation for research rather than assume participants’ diminished capacity due to poverty and/or drug use. Payment for research participation appears to be part of the “informal economy” that has been observed in underserved communities.

KEY WORDS

undue inducement drug use HIV/AIDS underserved minorities ethics of payment for research 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Partial support was provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. We are grateful to the staff at the Montrose field site for their assistance in facilitating our interviews. We thank our participants for sharing their views with us.

Authors’ Conflicts of Interest

None.

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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacquelyn Slomka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sheryl McCurdy
    • 1
  • Eric A. Ratliff
    • 1
  • Sandra Timpson
    • 1
  • Mark L. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, School of Public HealthUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonHoustonUSA

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