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Resources :: Guide :: Vulnerable and risk sensitive participants :: Vulnerable participants :: Potential for coerced consent :: Employees as Participants

Employees as Participants

Using a work environment for a research study can be complicated because of strong hierarchical relationships in the workplace, ambition to get ahead, and/or pressure to keep a job.  The Board is required to make sure that participation in a study is voluntarily.  You should construct your study so that participants are not directly or indirectly coerced into participation. Carefully consider all of the individuals involved in the study and what their relationships are in the study and outside of the study.  Consider the following questions when you are developing your protocol:

  • Who is funding the study? Is the study funded by the company/institution, or is it funded by an individual researcher?
  • Who is the researcher(s)? Do they hold a position in the company, particularly a position of authority?
  • What is the relationship between the person(s) collecting consents, data, etc, and the participants?

Potentially coercive situations can often be resolved with proactive measures; for example, collecting anonymous data through a survey and distributing information to the employees by someone other than their supervisor can help to alleviate any concerns. The following section outlines the requirements for conducting research in a workplace and provides suggestions for some of the more likely problems to occur.

Section Topics

Studies funded by an institution, company, state, program, etc.
Studies initiated by the researcher
Employer/ supervisor as researcher

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