Describe historical examples of unethical research, such as a study of syphilis among African-American men in which treatment was withheld and a study in which live cancer cells were injected into elderly patients.
Ethical Dimensions of Research Studies
Ethical Dimensions of Research Studies
In the best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Skloot, 2010), the author highlights the true story of an African-American woman who died in 1951 from cervical cancer. What makes her story unique is that prior to her death, cells from her tumor were removed and successfully grown in a petri dish. This was the first time scientists were able to successfully replicate cells outside the body, and it is estimated that billions of Lacks’ cells have been used in medical research. However, Henrietta Lacks was never asked for permission to take a sample and her family was never made aware of the widespread use of her cells. Although the culturing of her cells has been pivotal for advancing research, strong ethical concerns later arose about using these cells without patient or family approval.
This week’s readings describe historical examples of unethical research, such as a study of syphilis among African-American men in which treatment was withheld and a study in which live cancer cells were injected into elderly patients. Today, stricter controls that seek to protect study participants are placed on researchers, but breaches still occur. Careful attention must be given toward preventing unethical behavior. In this Discussion, you explore ethical considerations and issues in research.
Select a current health-related case involving research ethics. (If none come to mind, browse the Internet to familiarize yourself with recent cases.)
As you review the case that you have selected, reflect on the ethical principles discussed in “What Are the Major Ethical Issues in Conducting Research?” article found in this week’s Learning Resources. Which principles were breached in the case you have identified?
Please Provide References
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2017). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice (10th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.
Chapter 3, “Key Concepts and Steps in Qualitative and Quantitative Research” (for review)
Chapter 4, “Research Problems, Research Questions, and Hypotheses”
This chapter focuses on the steps in planning a study to generate evidence. These include developing a research question, identifying variables, articulating a problem statement, and generating hypotheses.
Chapter 7, “Ethics in Nursing Research”
In this chapter, the focus is on the ethical dilemmas that occur when planning and conducting research and the ethical principles that have been enacted for protecting study participants.
Fouka, G., & Mantzorou, M. (2011). What are the major ethical issues in conducting research? Is there a conflict between the research ethics and the nature of nursing? Health Science Journal, 5(1), 3–14.
This article describes a literature review conducted to determine the most important ethical issues that nurses encounter when undertaking or participating in research. The authors detail the results of the review and make recommendations for solving some of the problems highlighted.
Newcomb, P. (2010). Evolving fairness in research on human subjects. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 23(3), 123–124.
In this article, the author describes some of the ethical controversies that may arise in conducting research in human subjects, especially with respect to ownership of genes. The author also stresses the importance of educating research subjects and their families about the ultimate purpose of research.
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