Ethical Issues in Research

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In order to conduct research, a number of participants is selected from the research population.

In order to conduct research, a number of participants is selected from the research population. The implication here is that nurses always have to deal with people in the course of their nursing research as mentioned in many social issues essay examples, and it means that patients may participate in the study or in the collection of information. In various research activities, nurses are obliged to act ethically which means protecting the participants or promoting their safety. Even though obligations may complicate the study, a research that violates the obligations is not considered sound and desirable. The Nazi unethical experiments, Tuskegee syphilis study, Willowbrook study, and the Johns Hopkins experiment serve as the historical events that prompted the development of research guidelines, namely the Human Rights Guidelines for Nurses in Clinical and Other Research that promote human rights.

During World War II, Germany under the Nazi rule has been accused of unethical medical experiments, thus necessitating ethical research guidelines. The country carried out experiments in an unfair manner on the people who were discriminated by the government. In one of the experiments the Nazi deprived air force pilots of food to find out their survival rates. In another experiment, the Nazis made the soldiers parachute into cold and icy water to establish whether they could survive there. Moreover, the Nazis made the soldiers work at extreme high altitudes with shortage of oxygen to find out how long they can be conscious. These barbaric experiments had disastrous consequences since 40% of participants are reported to have died. In another case, the Nazis slashed a number of Polish women and infected their wounds in the bid to test the effectiveness of disinfectants. In reference to the suffering undergone by research participants in these studies and the adverse effects which included death and poor health, there was the need for research guidelines to ensure that such inhumane studies would never take place again.

The Tuskegee syphilis experiment is also a historical event that led to concerns for research participants’ safety. The research took place in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1932 under the instructions of the Public Health Service department. The study involved 400, and 200 black people infected and uninfected with syphilis respectively. The participants were deceived that they had been treated for “bad blood”, and they never knew that they had been participating in a syphilis research. The patients were treated with a mercury containing substance, and many of them died while others got more health complications. The adverse impacts of the study led to the need for ethical research guidelines as it was evident that researchers could truly disregard human safety in their studies.

Willowbrook and John Hopkins experiments also contributed to the concerns for ethics in research. The Willowbrook study involved the use of handicapped children in a Hepatitis B research. They had oral administration of the virus done on them, and it led to adverse effects, such as rash, flu symptoms and liver damage. At John Hopkins University there was a research in 2001 regarding asthma, and the participants inhaled hexamethonium which was a drug not approved by the Federal Drug Administration, and this information was not present in the consent form. The volunteers developed complications, and one of them died while in the Intensive Care Unit. It is clear from these two cases that the repercussions have contributed to the need for ethical guidelines in research as the authorities and other concerned parties saw a serious threat to human life in such experiments.

Human Rights Guidelines for Nurses in Clinical and Other Research is one of the guidelines that protect the rights of participants during research. The guideline calls for the voluntary participation of subjects, and it means that no one should be compelled to participate in a research. Also the guideline emphasizes the right to consent which indicates that no research must be done using people as subjects without their knowledge. Research participants have a right to information which means that researchers must inform them about all the aspects of research including the negative effects of the study. In addition, there is the emphasis on the protection of research participants, so nurses have a duty to ensure that the research does not have adverse effects on participants. Privacy and dignity are also a major focus of the guideline as it states that the participants’ personal details should not be revealed, and this is to promote their confidentiality and dignity. The guideline also gives participants the right to withdraw from research as well as provides a condition that researchers must be well-qualified to carry out the research. In reference to the provided information, it is clear that the guideline protects human rights which include the rights to privacy, dignity, anonymity and confidentiality.

Conclusively, nursing research entails the involvement of people as participants, and it arouses ethical concerns about research. Nazi unethical experiments, Tuskegee syphilis study, Willowbrook study, and John Hopkins University experiment are important historical cases that have led to the establishment of research guidelines to protect human rights. The Nazis carried out dangerous experiments using air force soldiers and Polish women, and the results were disastrous. The Tuskeegee study involved the deception of participants, and it led to adverse health effects. Willowbrook study was also offensive as it involved maltreatment of handicapped children. At John Hopkins University the research included the use of consent forms but there was omission of critical information about the drug employed, and the experiment ended up fatally. All the cases mentioned above led to the concerns over participants’ safety, thus providing the need for guidelines, such as Human Rights Guidelines for Nurses in Clinical and Other Research to promote human rights. In consideration of the provided information, it is clear that the concerns for ethical considerations in research came up after many research cases that have led to disastrous effects because of disregard for human safety.


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