Understanding current ethical concerns in clinical research has been a persistent concern for decades. From the Tuskegee Syphilis Study to the Stanford Prison Study, it is evident to see how scientific curiosity can jeopardize participant safety and wellbeing when left unchecked. Although reflecting on past events in research can be disheartening, there is hope when considering how these events have been addressed and prevented from reoccurring. Such events have led to the development of invaluable advances such as the Institutional Review Board, informed consent, voluntary participation, the right to withdraw, and many others. While great leaps and bounds have been made in research ethics, the opportunity to continue to develop greater methods for scientific integrity should be prioritized.
In a recent systematic review, summarizing pressing ethical issues in research, the authors were able to identify a series of current ethically concerning categories that need to be discussed in order to create solutions to extinguish their influence in this industry.
- Research Integrity
- Conflicts of Interest
- Respect for Research Participants
- Lack of Supervision and Power Imbalances
- Individualism and Performance
- Inadequate Ethical Guidance
- Social Injustices
- Distributive Injustices
- Epistemic Injustices
- Ethical Distress
It is argued that understanding and addressing each of these areas is vital to the production and implementation of policies that can ultimately lead to the continued growth and preservation of scientific integrity (Drolet et al., 2023).
In addition to these areas, one’s personal disposition to research has also been discussed as a potential avenue for ethical renovation. Because of the objective, data-driven nature of clinical research, it is no surprise that emotional influence is often viewed as insignificant or even completely inconsequential. However, it has been proposed that research needs to incorporate a greater emphasis on the role that emotions play in everyday life. This would not only increase the researcher’s ability to preserve subject autonomy, promote respect for persons, and protect vulnerable populations, but could also lead to the development of person-centered policies and guidelines for research ethics (Olson, 2023).
It is evident to see how the discussion of research ethics is complicated and multi-dimensional. Not only does the topic contain many competing areas to investigate, the implementation of ethical guidelines also warrants a series of personal and practical considerations. Although this may add elements of complexity and difficulty to this domain, there should be no less motivation to consider and address pressing ethical issues in clinical research. Only when rights, integrity, and transparency are emphasized can confidence, effectiveness, and generalizability be imagined.
Drolet, M.-J., Rose-Derouin, E., Leblanc, J.-C., Ruest, M., & Williams-Jones, B. (2023). Ethical Issues in Research: Perceptions of Researchers, Research Ethics Board Members and Research Ethics Experts. Journal of Academic Ethics, 21(2), 269–292. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-022-09455-3
Olson, R. E. (2023). Emotions in human research ethics guidelines: Beyond risk, harm and pathology. Qualitative Research, 23(3), 526–544. https://doi.org/10.1177/14687941211039965
About Clinitiative Health Research™
Clinitiative Health Research™ stands at the forefront of the clinical research industry as a distinguished global consulting and business development organization based in the United States. Specializing in fostering strategic connections between premier independent clinical research sites and site networks with pharmaceutical sponsors and clinical research organizations (CROs), Clinitiative Health Research™ is committed to enhancing the success rate of research studies worldwide. By leveraging their vast expertise and industry knowledge, the organization streamlines the clinical trial process, ensuring that all stakeholders can navigate the complex world of research and development with confidence and efficiency. As a trusted partner in the realm of clinical research, Clinitiative Health Research™ plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between pioneering clinical sites and pharmaceutical organizations, ultimately driving progress and innovation in the field of healthcare. Visit www.clinitiative.com to learn more.