Research Ethics 18 (2):126-131 (2022)

Jean-Christophe Bélisle-Pipon
Vincent Couture
Université Laval
Engaging citizens and patients in research has become a truism in many fields of health research. It is now seen as a laudable—if not compulsory—activity in research for yielding more impactful and meaningful citizen/patient outcomes and steering research in the right direction. Although this research approach is increasingly common and commendable, we recently encountered a major obstacle in obtaining an ethics certificate from an institutional review board to conduct a study that places citizen/patient perspectives on equal footing with those of academic/policy experts. The obstacle was the interpretation of fairness in terms of compensation for research participation. In terms of research ethics, this raised an important question: Should all types of participants be compensated equally, or should exceptions be made for citizen/patient participants? We argue that there are good reasons for exceptionalism and that clearer guidance on citizen/patient engagement in research should be embedded into research ethics doctrine.
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DOI 10.1177/17470161211059993
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