Webinar: Compensation or Inducement? What IRBs Need to Know about Paying Subjects for Participation

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It is widely accepted that researchers and institutions can reimburse study subjects for expenses incurred during research participation and provide payments to compensate for time and effort. There is more controversy, however, surrounding the use of payments to achieve recruitment goals. Several ethics guidance documents warn against offering payments that induce people to join studies against their better judgment. Despite the ubiquity of study payments, there is a lack of benchmarking data and standards about what constitutes appropriate compensation for study subjects. In addition, ongoing debate among ethicists about the amount and form of compensation that is appropriate in various scenarios creates challenges for IRBs and investigators. How can IRBs ensure they meet their ethical and regulatory responsibilities when it comes to paying subjects without risking coercion and undue influence, or adding to the study's recruitment difficulties?

During this intermediate-level webinar, speakers will address the following topics as they relate to paying research subjects:

What will I learn?

After attending this webinar, attendees will be able to:

  • Understand the underlying ethical principles that govern compensation for research subjects and weigh the arguments for and against various payment practices
  • Apply lessons from existing guidance, regulations, and best practices when evaluating payment for research subjects

Who should attend?

This intermediate-level webinar will benefit IRB administrators, staff, and researchers who are involved with developing or evaluating compensation for research subjects.


Alex LondonAlex John London, PhD is a professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. London is an elected Fellow of the Hastings Center whose work focuses on ethical and policy issues surrounding the development and deployment of novel technologies in medicine, biotechnology and artificial intelligence, methodological issues in theoretical and practical ethics, and cross-national issues of justice and fairness. His papers have appeared in Mind, Science, The Lancet, PLoS Medicine, Statistics In Medicine, The Hastings Center Report, and numerous other journals and collections and he is co-editor of Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine, one of the most widely used textbooks in medical ethics. Dr. London is an affiliated faculty member of the Center for Bioethics and Health Law at the University of Pittsburgh and was previously a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Program in Ethics and Health. Before joining Carnegie Mellon in 2000, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics and he received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Virginia.

Elizabeth RipleyElizabeth Ripley, MD, MS, RAC is a professor of medicine in the division of nephrology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She is the interim senior associate dean for faculty affairs for the school of medicine, the senior chair of the VCU IRB, and the VCU clinical research compliance officer, which oversees the VCU faculty held IND/IDE program. Dr. Ripley did her undergraduate work at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. She graduated from The Medical College of VCU in 1986 and completed her internal medicine residency and nephrology fellowship there. She is board certified in internal medicine, nephrology and clinical pharmacology and is a certified hypertension specialist. She has a master in clinical research and biostatistics, an AMA Ethics Fellowship, and holds a regulatory affairs certification for US drugs and devices regulatory affairs professionals. Her research is in hypertension, chronic kidney disease, research ethics, and responsible conduct of research.

Background Reading

VanderWalde, A., Kurzban, S. (2011). Paying Human Subjects in Research: Where are We, How Did We Get Here, and Now What? The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 39(3), 543-558. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2011.00621.x

Certificates of Attendance

Certificates of attendance will be made available at the conclusion of the webinar. To access the certificate, you must first complete the online evaluation. Such certificates are useful for obtaining continuing education (CE) credits (not Continuing Medical Education credits) from professional associations. Note that guidelines concerning CE credits may differ, and you should consult the appropriate professional association representative for further guidance.

CE Credit for Certified IRB Professional (CIP®) Recertification

Webinar participants holding the CIP® credential who wish to apply credits from this webinar toward CIP® recertification may submit the Certificate of Attendance they received upon completing the online evaluation as documentation of their participation. Participation in this 90-minute webinar counts as 1.5 CE credit hours. Additional information about recertification can be found here.

Contact Information

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