Does payment influence children’s participation in research? Results from the MESSI study

Research with children and young people
Friday 27 July, 1135 – 1255


Stephanie Taplin
Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University

The importance of including the views of children and young people in research about issues that affect them is recognised, but there can be challenges in recruiting them as research participants. Payment may be offered as an incentive to enhance recruitment and to compensate for their participation, but Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) and others often voice concerns about payments and that they may induce children to take unnecessary risks. As a result there is uncertainty for researchers and others about whether to allow payments for children for their participation in research, and if so what type and amount of payment is suitable.
As part of the Managing Ethical Studies on Sensitive Issues (MESSI) study, hypothetical scenarios were used to explore whether the amount of payment offered influenced the likelihood that children and young people would agree (or be permitted) to participate in social research studies of varying levels of “risk”. In 2017, 1,893 people participated in online surveys, including 229 HREC members, 544 professionals/gatekeepers, 812 parents, 245 young people aged 15–17 years and 61 children aged 12–14 years. Differences were found between the children and young people compared with the adults, in both the responses to the different scenarios and according to the amount of payment offered.
The implications of these findings for research payments for children and young people will be discussed.