May 30, 2008

elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

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Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: Why is it necessary to take a vacation day rather than a sick day if you participate in a research study?

Answer: A somewhat tougher question might be, why is it necessary to take a vacation day rather than receive paid administrative leave, such as pertains to Vanderbilt employees who are called to jury duty? And the answer would be that jury duty is not optional or voluntary.

No matter how worthwhile, employee participation in research studies remains entirely optional and voluntary.

We should also note that Vanderbilt follows stringent ethical standards meant to guard against coercion of research subjects. Among other things, these standards prohibit giving employees preferential treatment in exchange for their participation in research.

Also, when people volunteer for a Vanderbilt research study that entails a substantial time commitment, they may be compensated by the study itself.

Paid sick leave aids employees who are prevented from working due to an illness or a medical condition. Sick leave isn't designed to cover participation in medical research.

However, patients with acute illnesses may be offered participation in Vanderbilt clinical trials. When research is coupled with treatment, sick leave does apply.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding your rights, safety, or welfare associated with participation in a Vanderbilt-sponsored research project, please contact the Vanderbilt Institutional Review Board, 322-2918 or toll free, (866) 224-8273.

— Lenon Coleman, interim chief human resource officer