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The Payment of Research Subjects: Ethical Concerns

Jeanne Marguerite Sears
ONF 2001, 657-663 DOI:

Purpose/Objectives: To present models for the payment of research subjects, pros and cons of each, and the application of ethical principles in the current environment.

Data Sources: Federal regulations and guidelines, current and historical research, and opinions expressed in the nursing, medical, bioethics, pharmacology, and clinical trial literature.

Data Synthesis: Relevant regulations are sparse. A variety of payment models exist, but all are somewhat problematic. Balancing the principles of respect for people and justice in our current society will not be entirely possible. Practice decisions must be made for individual situations. Special care must be taken with patients because they are subject to therapeutic misconception.

Conclusions: No model fits all situations, but research nurses can use their skills to evaluate particular applications. As a society, nurses must promote participation in research as a socially responsible activity and prevent unethical payment models from predominating.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Oncology research nurses may be involved with the consent process, the development of protocols, and staff education. A thorough understanding of an issue that may impair the consent process or impinge upon subjects' rights is critical to effective and ethical practice.

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