For love or money? An exploratory study of why injecting drug users participate in research

Addiction. 2001 Sep;96(9):1319-25. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2001.969131911.x.


Aims: To examine injecting drug user (IDU) motivations as research participants.

Design: Convenience sampling facilitated by recruitment notices distributed through needle and syringe programmes (NSPs), and snowballing within peer networks.

Setting: NSPs in six suburbs throughout the Melbourne metropolitan area.

Participants: One hundred and fifty-four current IDUs. The mean age was 28 years, 62% were male, and 80% nominated heroin as preferred drug.

Measurements: Interviewer-administered survey including questions about socio-demographics, drug use and main reasons for participating in research.

Findings: IDU research participation reasons were consistent with motivational themes such as economic gain (46%), expression of citizenship (38%), altruism (19%), personal satisfaction (17%), drug user activism (16%) and seeking information or assistance (5%). Most respondents (58%) cited reasons where the primary beneficiaries of participation were other individuals or groups (citizenship, altruism, drug user activism) or both self and others.

Conclusions: IDU motivations for research involvement appear to be multi-dimensional, rarely motivated by economic gain alone, and not necessarily defined by direct benefits or gains to themselves. These findings are relevant to the question of IDU research payment ethics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Altruism
  • Australia
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Participation / economics
  • Patient Participation / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Research*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / psychology*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / rehabilitation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires