IHS 4504 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Macon County, Alabama, National Research Act, Research
DepartmentInterdis. Health Sciences
Course CodeIHS 4504
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Chapter 6: Research Ethic
- As you began your study of research methods, probably one of the furthest thoughts
from you to the mind was your concern for ethical issues related to the research
- Ethical issues: situations where competing values are at play and the researcher needs
to make a judgment about what is the most appropriate course of action.
- Obtrusive observation: telling group participants that he or she will be attending the
support groups for the purpose of “watching and studying” their behavior.
- Unobtrusive observation: not telling participants the “real” purpose of attending the
support group but instead taking on the role of a cancer patient in order to “observe”.
- Researchers must balance their general obligation to promote knowledge with the
general obligation to treat others fairly.
Ethics, professional ethics, and research ethics, and research ethics defined.
- Ethics: study a moral behavior is one of the three major areas of philosophy.
o Epistemology: the study of knowledge
o Metaphysics: the study of nature and reality.
- Professional ethics: seek to determine what the role of the professions is and what the
conduct of professionals should be.
- Research ethics: comprises principles and standards that, along with underlying values,
guide appropriate conduct relevant to research decisions.
Brief History of Research Ethics
- Hippocrates, referred to as the “father of medicine”, was known for developing the art
of ethical bedside care.
- It was not until after the Nuremberg war crime trails following WWII that the treatment
of research participants, as we know it today, first received attention.
o Nuremberg code: set forth 10 conditions, attempted to outline permissible
guidelines for medical experimentation
o It made “no provisions for any special treatment of children, the elderly, or the
- Helsinki declaration compels “government officials who administer research funds to
monitor the manner in which research is conducted.”
- Universal declaration of human rights: represented the world’s first effort to create a
collective view of the rights that go along with human existence.
- Tuskegee syphilis study: investigated the long-term effects of untreated syphilis in poor,
semiliterate African American men of Macon County, Alabama.
- Another breach of research ethics, as we know them today, sponsored by the U.S.
government took place in the 1940s and 1950s.
o During the period of time, some 1800 individuals involved in several different
studies were given radioactive isotopes.
- National Research Act: as a result of these and other visible breaches of research ethics
in the United States.
- Belmont Report: identified three fundamental ethical principles that are relevant to all
research involving human subjects: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice.
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