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CTSA UL1TR001878

Inducing Deception: Does Paying Research Participants Cause Them to Lie?

Principal Investigator: Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBe

Our long-term goal is to address barriers to using payment as an incentive for recruitment to clinical research, one of which is fear of inducing deception. There is a critical need to determine whether – and if so, to what extent – offers of payment to clinical research participants in fact induce them to engage in deception about their eligibility or other important details. Therefore, the overall objective for this proposal is to use an RCT to determine whether offers of payment induce deception amongst online survey respondents.

The specific aims are to: (1) determine how frequently offers of payment induce deception; (2) evaluate the extent to which the amount of payment influences rates of deception; and (3) determine the extent to which deception about eligibility meaningfully impacts the data subsequently collected. The rationale is that if deception is induced only infrequently, the concern can be dispensed with and payment facilitated, likely leading to increased enrollment in research; if deception is demonstrated to be a problem, however, we can focus on how to avoid it in practice, so that incentive payments can still be used. With respect to outcomes, we will measure how incentives influence self-reported eligibility for participation, as well as survey responses.

This contribution will be significant because it will generate empirical data in a non-hypothetical setting to address an important anecdotal worry about the impact of payment in research, and innovative because it would be the first to use an RCT design to assess payment-induced deception in research.