Assessment of benefits is traditionally regarded as crucial to the ethical evaluation of research involving human participants. We conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) with health and other professionals engaged with adolescents, caregivers/parents, and adolescents in Siaya County, Kenya, to solicit opinions about appropriate ways of conducting HIV research with adolescents. Our data revealed that many focus group participants have a profoundly positive conception of participation in health research, including studies conferring seemingly few benefits. In this article, we identify and analyze five different but interrelated types of benefits as perceived by Kenyan adolescent and adult stakeholders in HIV research, and discuss their ethical significance. Our findings suggest that future empirical and conceptual research should concentrate on factors that may trigger researcher obligations to improve benefit perceptions among research participants.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Kenya; adolescents; benefits; research ethics.