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Discussion: Ethical Dimensions of Research Studies

QUESTION

Discussion: 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.

To prepare:

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?

Post a description of the case that you selected and the ethical issues involved. Analyze the ethical principles that were breached by the researchers or organizations in your selected case as well as the possible cause of the breach(es). Suggest how the research might have been conducted differently to avoid or minimize the ethical problems. Discuss how research can be done on sensitive issues while still protecting the rights of the research subjects.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ responses.

Respond to at least two of your colleagues on two different days using one or more of the following approaches:

Ask a probing question, substantiated with additional background information, and evidence.

Offer and support an alternative perspective using readings from the classroom or from your own review of the literature in the Walden Library.

Make a suggestion based on additional evidence drawn from readings or after synthesizing multiple postings.

Required Readings

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.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

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.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

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.

Yakov, G., Shilo, Y., & Shor, T. (2010). Nurses’ perceptions of ethical issues related to patients’ rights law. Nursing Ethics, 17(4), 501–510.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

The authors of this article detail a study conducted to determine how nursing staff deal with ethical issues in relation to the law. The article emphasizes the difficulty staff had in distinguishing between legal and ethical problems. The authors make several recommendations to deal with legal and ethical problems.

 Delwiche, F. (2008). Anatomy of a scholarly research presentation in the health sciences. Retrieved from http://dana.uvm.edu/Anatomy/

This presentation highlights the primary components of scholarly research articles. The presentation details the distinguishing factors of scholarly journals, the peer-review process, and the definition of “primary literature.”

 American Nurses Association. (2001). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/DocumentVault/Ethics-1/Code-of-Ethics-for-Nurses.html

This website provides the code of ethics for nurses to be used in carrying out their responsibilities. There is also a detailed explanation of each provision.

 Document: Literature Review Summary Table Template (Word document)

Note: You will use this document to complete the Project throughout this course. 

Media

 Laureate Education (Producer). (2012a). Anatomy of a research study. Baltimore, MD: Author. 

This multimedia piece explains the “anatomy” of both quantitative and qualitative research studies. In addition, there is a brief quiz at the end of the tutorial to measure knowledge about research articles.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2012d). Evidence-based practice and research. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 6 minutes.

In this video, Dr. Marianne Chulay talks about the significance of evidence-based practice and research in nursing. She explains how nurses should apply research findings to health care decisions to improve outcomes.

Accessible player  

Laureate Education (Producer). (2012h). Overview of evidence-based practice. Baltimore, MD: Author. 

Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.

In this video, Dr. Kristen Mauk explains evidence-based practice and its importance to nursing. She also provides a brief overview of the process of conducting original research. 

Accessible player  

Optional Resources

 National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research. (2011). Protecting human research participants. Retrieved from http://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php

This website provides a course on ethical research for those involved in research in human subjects. The course supplies basic concepts, principles, and issues relevant to protecting research participants.

 University of Oxford. (2005). PICO: Formulating an answerable question. Retrieved from http://learntech.physiol.ox.ac.uk/cochrane_tutorial/cochlibd0e84.php

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