Perceptions of Financial Compensation in Research with PWID

Analysis from the REACH Lab’s work in Puerto Rico analyzing perceptions of financial compensation in work with PWID with was recently published the journal Ethics and BehaviorThe purpose of the study was to examine participants’ perceptions of financial compensation and how these findings speak to the larger literature on concerns associated with financial compensation and research involving human subjects, particularly epidemiological or behavioral studies of substance abuse.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 40 active PWID men 18 years of age or older who resided in the localities of Cidra, Cayey, Aguas Buenas, and Comerio in rural Puerto Rico to  document why participants had been motivated to enroll in the study and their views of financial compensation. Participants were also asked about trust in their relationship with researchers and their preferred form of financial compensation.

The study concludes that while financial compensation may be the main motivation for originally participating in the study, participants were also interested in receiving results from HIV/HCV tests, and financial compensation ultimately became part of a reciprocal exchange in which participants developed trust with researchers and provided a trustful account of their experiences. The authors conclude that ethical considerations in providing financial compensation to participants should include an acknowledgement of participant agency and compensation as recognition of the expertise provided by research participants.

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