Selecting subjects for participation in clinical research: one sphere of justice.
Recent guidelines from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandate the inclusion of adequate numbers of women in clinical trials. Ought such standards to apply internationally? Walzer's theory of justice is brought to bear on the problem, the first use of the theory in research ethics, and it argues for broad application of the principle of adequate representation. A number of practical conclusions for research ethics committees (RECs) are outlined. Eligibility criteria in clinical trials ought to be justified by trial designers. Research ethics committees ought to question criteria that seem to exclude unnecessarily women from research participation. The issue of adequate representation should be construed broadly, so as to include consideration of the representation of the elderly, persons with HIV, mental illness and substance abuse disorders in clinical research. (+info)
Health outcomes and managed care: discussing the hidden issues.
Too often the debate over health outcomes and managed care has glossed over a series of complex social, political, and ethical issues. Exciting advances in outcomes research have raised hopes for logical medical reform. However, science alone will not optimize our patients' health, since value judgements are necessary and integral parts of attempts to improve health outcomes within managed care organizations. Therefore, to form healthcare policy that is both fair and efficient, we must examine the fundamental values and ethical concerns that are imbedded in our efforts to shape care. We must openly discuss the hidden issues including: (1) trade-offs between standardization of care and provider-patient autonomy; (2) effects of financial incentives on physicians' professionalism; (3) opportunity costs inherent in the design of insurance plans; (4) responsibilities of managed care plans for the health of the public; (5) judicious and valid uses of data systems; and (6) the politics of uncertainty. (+info)
Impact of therapeutic research on informed consent and the ethics of clinical trials: a medical oncology perspective.
PURPOSE: To create a more meaningful understanding of the informed consent process as it has come to be practiced and regulated in clinical trials, this discussion uses the experience gained from the conduct of therapeutic research that involves cancer patients. DESIGN: After an introduction of the ethical tenets of the consent process in clinical research that involves potentially vulnerable patients as research subjects, background that details the use of written consent documents and of the term "informed consent" is provided. Studies from the cancer setting that examine the inadequacies of written consent documents, and the outcome of the consent process itself, are reviewed. Two ethically challenging areas of cancer clinical research, the phase I trial and the randomized controlled trial, are discussed briefly as a means of highlighting many dilemmas present in clinical trials. Before concluding, areas for future research are discussed. RESULTS: Through an exclusive cancer research perspective, many current deficiencies in the informed consent process for therapeutic clinical trials can be critically examined. Also, new directions for improvements and areas of further research can be outlined and discussed objectively. The goals of such improvements and research should be prevention of further misguided or ineffective efforts to regulate the informed consent process. CONCLUSION: To ignore this rich and interesting perspective potentially contributes to continued misunderstanding and apathy toward fulfilling the regulatory and ethically obligatory requirements involved in an essential communication process between a clinician-investigator and a potentially vulnerable patient who is considering clinical trial participation. (+info)
Protective truthfulness: the Chinese way of safeguarding patients in informed treatment decisions.
The first part of this paper examines the practice of informed treatment decisions in the protective medical system in China today. The second part examines how health care professionals in China perceive and carry out their responsibilities when relaying information to vulnerable patients, based on the findings of an empirical study that I had undertaken to examine the moral experience of nurses in practice situations. In the Chinese medical ethics tradition, refinement [jing] in skills and sincerity [cheng] in relating to patients are two cardinal virtues that health care professionals are required to possess. This notion of absolute sincerity carries a strong sense of parental protectiveness. The empirical findings reveal that most nurses are ambivalent about telling the truth to patients. Truth-telling would become an insincere act if a patient were to lose hope and confidence in life after learning of his or her disease. In this system of protective medical care, it is arguable as to whose interests are being protected: the patient, the family or the hospital. I would suggest that the interests of the hospital and the family members who legitimately represent the patient's interests are being honoured, but at the expense of the patient's right to know. (+info)
The psychological profile of parents who volunteer their children for clinical research: a controlled study.
Three standard psychometric tests were administered to parents who volunteered their children for a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a new asthma drug and to a control group of parents whose children were eligible for the trial but had declined the invitation. The trial took place at a children's hospital in Australia. The subjects comprised 68 parents who had volunteered their children and 42 who had not, a participation rate of 94 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively. The responses of these parents to the Gordon Survey of Interpersonal Values Questionnaire, the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory and the Cattell Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire were analysed by computer. There was a marked difference between the psychological profiles of the two groups of parents. Volunteering parents put more value on benevolence while non-volunteering parents were more concerned with power and prestige. The self-esteem of volunteering parents was much lower than that of non-volunteering parents. Finally, volunteering parents were more introverted, exhibited greater anxiety and low supergo, while non-volunteering parents appeared to have greater social confidence and emotional stability. Since an individual's values, self-esteem and personality may be important antecedents of behaviour, these findings suggest that parents who volunteer their children for clinical research are not only socially disadvantaged and emotionally vulnerable, but may also be psychologically predisposed to volunteering. Furthermore, these findings provide evidence for the existence of a psychosocial 'filter' effect of the informed consent procedure, which may be discouraging the better educated, more privileged and psychologically resilient members of society from participation as research subjects. (+info)
Sociodemographic and motivational characteristics of parents who volunteer their children for clinical research: a controlled study.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the sociodemographic and motivational characteristics of parents who volunteer their children for clinical research. DESIGN: A questionnaire was administered to parents who volunteered their children for a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial of a drug to treat asthma and to a control group of parents whose children were eligible for the trial but had refused the invitation. SETTING: A children's hospital in Australia. SUBJECTS: 68 Parents who had volunteered their children and 42 who had not; a response rate of 94% and 70%, respectively. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Responses of parents to questionnaire designed to assess their perceptions, attitudes, and health seeking behaviour as well as sociodemographic data. RESULTS: Volunteering parents were less well educated with only 15% (10/68) of mothers and 16% (11/68) and of fathers having had a tertiary or university education compared with 26% (11/42) of mothers and 45% (19/42) in the non-volunteering group. Fewer volunteering parents had professional or administrative jobs than did non-volunteering parents (mothers 6% (4/68); fathers 9% (6/68) v mothers 14% (6/42); fathers 31% (13/42)). Volunteering parents had less social support, and they displayed greater health seeking behaviour and consumed more habit forming substances. They were motivated by a desire to help others and to contribute to medical research, but they were also searching for more information and better ways to help their own children. CONCLUSION: Parents who volunteer their children for medical research are significantly more socially disadvantaged and emotionally vulnerable. (+info)
A classification of clinical paediatric research with analysis of related ethical themes.
Different types of clinical research are associated with different degrees of risk and with varying utility. Usually classified as therapeutic or non-therapeutic, clinical research involving children necessitates a balance between the conflicts of intrusion into a group of vulnerable subjects, and the obvious advantages which such intrusion engenders. To understand better the potential ethical dilemmas of paediatric research the author has expanded the classification of such clinical research involving children. Five types of such research--preventive research, curative research, research to alleviate symptoms, studies to establish norms and baselines, and curiosity research--are discussed in the context of their ethical constraints, and the different ethical questions which confront workers operating in each of these different themes. (+info)
How to do it. Get patients' consent to enter clinical trials.
Gaining patients' consent to enter clinical trials is essential, but not easy. Giving careful thought to the design of the study itself, information which patients receive, and the use of a signed consent form may all help. To be properly informed, patients need to know something about their condition, the proposed study, and alternative options. The type and amount of information will vary and investigators need to judge the level appropriate for each person. Patients should understand that taking part in a clinical trial is voluntary and that their decision will not affect the quality of care they receive. The process of obtaining consent requires time and good communication. Working with young, elderly, or mentally impaired patients, or those particularly vulnerable to coercion, requires special sensitivity to the potential dangers. (+info)