The National Institutes of Health (NIH) deems prisoners to be a vulnerable population because prisoners “may be under constraints because of their incarceration which could affect their ability to make a truly voluntary and uncoerced decision whether or not to participate as subjects
in research.” (NIH, 1978, §46.302). Stringent federal regulations have been instituted to protect prisoners from coercion or abuse. This article was borne from my experiences in implementing a mental health research project in a state prison system. The extent of the regulations
at the project outset was underestimated, thus causing logistical challenges and delays. Familiarity with these regulations will facilitate the completion of prison-based research projects for other nurse researchers.
Journal of Nursing Law was founded to serve the needs of practicing nurses in hospitals, clinics, schools, and elsewhere for solid practical advice on the legal and ethical issues that influence their jobs.