Perceptions of Financial Payment for Research Participation among African-American Drug Users in HIV Studies
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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.
The objective of the study was to elicit underserved minority drug users’ views about monetary payments for participating in research.
Semi-structured in-depth interview study of motivations for and perceptions of participation in research was used.
Thirty-seven adult, economically disadvantaged African-American crack cocaine smokers were the participants of the study.
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.
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.
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 WORDSundue inducement drug use HIV/AIDS underserved minorities ethics of payment for research
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
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