French academic's views on financial compensation of participants

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Abstract

Background

Whether and how participants in biomedical research should receive financial compensation is debated. We wished to explore how this issue was perceived by French professionals, focusing on different conditions of research.

Materials and methods

We surveyed referent responders of Clinical Investigation Centres, Research Ethics Committees and hospital administrative departments for clinical research, via referent responders who completed an online questionnaire on behalf of their respective teams. Financial compensation was addressed in terms of general perception, justifications, interpretation of French law, concrete clinical situations and compensation of incurred expenses. Descriptive analyses and correlations were carried out based on scalar responses.

Results

The questionnaire was answered by 54/116 (45·6%) centres. The ethical aspects of compensation were viewed differently by Clinical Investigation Centres and Research Ethics Committees, whereas the practical aspects were viewed similarly. Agreement to compensation for patients was lower than for healthy volunteers (74·1 vs. 98·2%). The most frequently cited justifications for compensation apart from the inconveniences of research were the potential risk and the absence of medical benefit. Most of the proposed expenses incurred were to be compensated, but agreement to reimbursement of petrol bills or childcare expense was lower.

Conclusions

Although some of the responses align with previous surveys in other countries, this information may help French professionals to harmonise their practices. We also addressed practical issues which could be studied in other European countries, for professionals and participants. Finally, the reluctance to compensate patients requires further study, taking into account welfare environment and consequences for recruitment.

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