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Participant compensation in global health research: a case study

Saleh, Sepeedeh, Sambakunsi, Henry, Nyirenda, Deborah, Kumwenda, Moses, Mortimer, Kevin ORCID: and Chinouya, Martha (2020) 'Participant compensation in global health research: a case study'. International Health, Vol 12, Issue 6, pp. 524-532.

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Background: Compensation for research participants can be provided for reasons including reimbursement of costs; compensation for time lost, discomfort or inconvenience; or expression of appreciation for participation. This compensation involves numerous ethical complexities, at times entailing competing risks. In the context of transnational research, often incorporating contexts of economic inequality, power differentials and post-colonialism, these issues extend into wider questions of ethical research conduct.

Methods: We describe experiences of conducting a community-based study of air pollution in southern Malawi incorporating ethnographic, participatory and air quality monitoring elements. Decisions surrounding participant compensation evolved in response to changing circumstances in the field.

Results: Attention to careful researcher–participant relationships and responsiveness to community perspectives allowed dynamic, contextualised decision-making around participant compensation. Despite widely cited risks, including but not restricted to undue influence of monetary compensation on participation, we learned that failure to adequately recognise and compensate participants has its own risks, notably the possibility of ‘ethics dumping’.

Conclusions: We recommend active engagement with research participants and communities with integration of contextual insights throughout, including participant compensation, as for all elements of research conduct. Equitable research relationships encompass four central values: fairness, care, honesty and respect.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: W General Medicine. Health Professions > W 74 Medical economics. Health care costs
W General Medicine. Health Professions > Health Services. Patients and Patient Advocacy > W 84 Health services. Delivery of health care
WA Public Health > WA 20.5 Research (General)
WA Public Health > Air pollution > WA 750 Air sanitation and hygiene
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Elly Wallis
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2020 12:31
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2024 08:38


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