Wage Payment Model for Human Guinea Pigs
What would you do if you were asked to get paid to spend the entire week lying down on a comfortable bed for human clinical trial? There will be medications to take and occasional checkups that might be disturbing, but considering the good pay, some might think it is worth the pain. Many of the research subjects, who are often called “guinea pigs,” participate in the human clinical research for the relatively easy money-making process. Since growing numbers of healthy subjects are involved in the clinical research for the money than the humanitarian reasons, many people feel that there should be strict regulations on the payment for each clinical trial according to the time and the level of discomfort during the study. Christine Grady (2005), from the Department of Clinical Bioethics, suggests four different payment models for clinical research subjects: market, wage-payment, reimbursement, and appreciation methods (Grady, 88). Although paying the subjects with wage-payment model might under-compensate some subjects in relation to their regular wages, the regulations on their payment will create a sense of equality, build stronger employer-employee relationship, and reduce undue inducement among research subjects.
Wage-payment model is known to be the fairest payment method, since the research subjects receive set amount of money for the time and effort they put into the research. According to Grady, research subjects are given the hourly wages to compensate for their contribution (Grady, 89). Apart from the set wages, the research subjects are paid for the extra amount of money depending on the level of discomfort and difficulty of the research. However, wage-payment model has more limitation on the payment than the other models in that it has little impact on recruitment. Carl Elliott (2008) elaborates in his article that most of the research subjects are the ones who do not have the income other than the ones they receive from guinea-pigging (Elliott, 67). However, on some occasions, relatively rich group of people participate in certain researches. For instance, in the article by Scott D. Halpern, MD, PhD et al. (2004), the team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania performed a clinical trial on both rich and poor group of research subjects to check their “willingness to participate” in the research (Halpern et al., 93). Since the research subjects with wage-payment model rarely receive the extra amount of money for their participation, it is less likely that those with high-paying jobs will be motivated to participate in the research. Since the money is not enough to attract wealthy group of subjects to participate in the research, wage-payment method will have little impact on recruitment. However, unless there is a special reason for them to participate in the research, it is rarely the case that wealthy people will participate. According to Elliott, “the subjects are usually people who need money and have a lot of time to spare: the unemployed, college students, contract workers, ex-cons, or young people living on the margins who have decided that testing drugs is better than punching a clock with the wage slaves” (Elliott, 2008, 67). Therefore, considering the financial conditions of the research participants, wage-payment model best satisfy majority of participants in that it does not discriminate research subjects against heir financial and social status. Also, it is only fair for the research subjects to earn equal amount of money for the same work they have done.
Many people believe that it is only fair for the research subjects to receive the equal wages for the equal work they have done at the clinical trials. Compared to reimbursement model, where the research subjects are given different amount of money according to their actual wages, wage-payment model is the fairest form of payment since everyone involved in the research are paid for the same...
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