Max Mehlman, co-director of the Law-Medicine Center, is co-principal investigator on a project recently awarded a four-year $1.6 million grant by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dean Jessica Berg, an expert on informed consent, is a co-investigator. The project team, which includes researchers at the CWRU School of Medicine and the University of Utah, will examine ethical and legal concerns raised by “nudging” people to consent to participate in clinical experiments.
Nudging, an approach rooted in behavioral economics that entails subliminally influencing people to make certain decisions, has been widely used in public health. To illustrate, salad bars can be placed at the front of cafeteria lines to promote healthier eating habits. Mehlman’s project will investigate whether there are circumstances in which it would be acceptable to use nudging in recruiting human subjects.