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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME) Forum for Global Health Ethics

Webinar on Financial Incentives in Breastfeeding Research

Offering financial incentives to recruit participants, retain them and promote health-related behaviours is a common practice in health research. The development of health research standards has given rise to a rich and long-standing debate regarding the ethical issues associated with the use
of financial incentives. Some researchers argue that financial incentives compromise the integrity of the research process and its outcomes. Since financial incentives can influence decision-making, they may jeopardise the voluntariness of research participants’ consent. In particular, the use of financial incentives may lead to undue inducement, exploitation, and biased enrolment of research participants. At the same time, other experts argue that financial incentives represent a flexible tool that can be designed in ways that do not compromise scientific integrity. They highlight that financial incentives can be fair inducements for participation, a way of acknowledging participants’ time and effort, and a means to achieve diverse sample compositions. They also point out that in some situations, these incentives can enable research that would otherwise be unfeasible.

In this webinar, international experts discussed the use of financial incentives, with a focus on health and breastfeeding research.


  • Mary Ani-Amponsah, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Ghana
  • Farah Asif, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, Pakistan
  • David Resnik, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, United States
  • David Yanagizawa-Drott, Department of Economics, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Hosts: Nikola Biller-Andorno and Tania Manríquez Roa, University of Zurich  

Organising institutions: University of Zurich (IBME), Swiss Medical Weekly, The Global Health Network (University of Oxford) and LactaHub

Organisers: Tania Manríquez Roa, Nikola Biller-Andorno, and Dominik Bolliger 

Read the viewpoint «Financial incentives for participants in health research: when are they ethical?» by Tania Manríquez Roa and Nikola Biller-Andorno

Read the webinar report «Too much or too little? A summary of the forum on financial incentives to participants in health and breastfeeding research» by Rasita Vinay and Annina Bauer (This text was originally published in the Blog of the Journal for Medical Ethics, 24 May 2022)

Here you can watch short clips of this webinar.

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