Payment for research participation has raised ethical concerns, especially with respect to its potential for coercion. We argue that characterising payment for research participation as coercive is misguided, because offers of benefit cannot constitute coercion. In this article we analyse the concept of coercion, refute mistaken conceptions of coercion and explain why the offer of payment for research participation is never coercive but in some cases may produce undue inducement.
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Competing interests: The authors have no competing interests to declare.
The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the National Institutes of Health, the Public Health Service or the Department of Health and Human Services.