To address the principle of beneficence, researchers must consider the risks and benefits of the project. A research risk is the possibility of harm or discomfort that may occur as a result of participation in a research study. Potential risks to participants include time, stress, intrusion into personal or sensitive issues, emotional discomfort, physical harm (e.g., injury, fatigue), breach of confidentiality, etc.

All research involves some risks, but in many instances, the risk is minimal. Minimal risk is defined as anticipated risks that are not greater than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during routine physical or psychological tests or procedures.

A research benefit is something of a health-related, psychosocial, or other value to an individual research subject or something that will contribute to the acquisition of generalizable knowledge. Potential benefits may include a chance to talk with others experiencing a similar health issue, improved services, information that could lead to new grants in the community, etc. The researcher must consider whether the benefits clearly outweigh the risks to participants.