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Human guinea pigs wary of high-paying medical trials
Date:12/4/2009

  • More than 15 million Americans are recruited annually to participate in clinical trials according to the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP), and most will be compensated for their participation.

  • Research institutions view payments to volunteers as compensation for time and expenses; not as compensation for potential risks related to participating in the experiments.

  • A new study finds that volunteers have a very different view of clinical trial compensation. High-paying research studies raise a red flag for human guinea pigs and signal high levels of risk.

The findings from a study published this month by the journal Social Science and Medicine have implications for informed consent in human subjects research and the debate over research participation incentives.

Cynthia Cryder, assistant professor of Marketing at the Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis, is the lead author of the study, "Informative Inducement: Study Payment as a Signal of Risk"*. Her co-authors are Alex John London and George Loewenstein at Carnegie Mellon University and Kevin G. Volpp at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Wharton School.

"At a big-picture level, what stands out from these results is that research participants do not just consider participation payments as an incentive to be traded off for their time." Cryder explains. "They actually infer information about the study itself from the participation payment."

Cryder and colleagues conducted three experiments to measure people's interest in participating in potentially risky research studies, their perception of the risk associated with those studies and how payment amounts affected their interest and perceptions.

Experiments for the study were conducted with an online nationwide sample or a sample from a northeastern U.S. city in 2007-2008.

The study finds that while high
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Contact: Melody Walker
melody_walker@wustl.edu
314-935-5202
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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