- Research on the motivations of research participants has focused primarily on vulnerable populations at risk of exploitation, and there is little research on the motivations and reasons of general medical patients participating in research. Given a significant increase in research studies recruiting participants with diabetes, we sought to better understand the motivations of patients with diabetes considering a general medical research protocol.The analyses presented here compare the reasoning and willingness to participate in a hypothetical research study of medically ill subjects (patients with diabetes, n=51) with non-ill (n=57) subjects. Responses on the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool for Clinical Research (MacCAT-CR) were correlated with demographic variables and scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Short-Form-36 (SF-36).Overall, 44% of the group with diabetes and 56% of the comparison group indicated a willingness to participate in the research study. The reasons diabetic and comparison groups offered for willingness or unwillingness to participate in research did not differ significantly. 75% mentioned reasons related to treatment, 63% altruism; none mentioned money. Of those patients with diabetes who would not participate in research, 94% cited risk, and 89% expressed an aversion to research.The present study suggests that when research is not related to their diagnosis, persons with diabetes do not differ significantly from non-ill comparison subjects in their motivations to participate in research. Given the similarity of our subjects' motivations to those of other medically ill populations, it may be that investigators can now focus more closely on the decision-making characteristics of their patients involved in clinical research rather than their diagnoses.