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

pay is a real incentive for people to participate in clinical trials, it also increases the "perceived risk" of the trial and the time potential volunteers spend researching and viewing information about risks related to the trial.

"Specifically in our experiments," Cryder explains, "they [participants] judge studies that offer high payments to be riskier than identical studies that offer low payments."

George Loewenstein, the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon and co-author of the study, says these findings contradict some of the common guidelines used for establishing participation incentives:

"Most organizations that do research prohibit participation payments that substantially exceed compensation for time and expenses. The fear is that people will be overly tempted by high payments to take excessive risks. Our research challenges this common practice. It suggests that people assume that studies that don't pay much aren't risky."

The study concludes that there is a "mismatch" between current research guidelines for setting compensation levels and the assumptions participants make about the levels of pay and risk. Loewenstein explains:

"Contrary to the assumption that high payments are excessively tempting, our research suggests that they alert subjects to potential risk and make them more vigilant about protecting themselves. An added bonus of high payments is that it is ethically sensible for people to be adequately compensated when they do, in fact, incur risks."

The authors of the study believe their findings should contribute to the debate over research participation incentives and informed consent. The way potential human subjects interpret payment, risk and information about clinical trials as documented in the Cryder et al paper sheds new light on the role of the human subjects in research.


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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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