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1.  The Nuremberg Code–A critique 
The Nuremberg Code drafted at the end of the Doctor’s trial in Nuremberg 1947 has been hailed as a landmark document in medical and research ethics. Close examination of this code reveals that it was based on the Guidelines for Human Experimentation of 1931. The resemblance between these documents is uncanny. It is unfortunate that the authors of the Nuremberg Code passed it off as their original work. There is evidence that the defendants at the trial did request that their actions be judged on the basis of the 1931 Guidelines, in force in Germany. The prosecutors, however, ignored the request and tried the defendants for crimes against humanity, and the judges included the Nuremberg Code as a part of the judgment. Six of ten principles in Nuremberg Code are derived from the 1931 Guidelines, and two of four newly inserted principles are open to misinterpretation. There is little doubt that the Code was prepared after studying the Guidelines, but no reference was made to the Guidelines, for reasons that are not known. Using the Guidelines as a base document without giving due credit is plagiarism; as per our understanding of ethics today, this would be considered unethical. The Nuremberg Code has fallen by the wayside; since unlike the Declaration of Helsinki, it is not regularly reviewed and updated. The regular updating of some ethics codes is evidence of the evolving nature of human ethics.
doi:10.4103/2229-3485.80371
PMCID: PMC3121268  PMID: 21731859
Ethics; guidelines; human subjects; Nuremberg; research
2.  From Nuremberg to bioethics: an educational project for students of dentistry and dental prosthesis 
Annali di Stomatologia  2013;4(1):138-141.
Summary
In the lessons of medical-scientific methodologies of the medical faculty at the Sapienza University of Rome, basic notions on the ethical and deontologic aspects characterizing the history of the medical profession are provided, including the formulation and application of bioethical principles to clinics and biomedical research. Within such framework, an educational project has been initiated on the historical origin of the current normative and juridic dispositions in the regulation of experimental biomedical research and the relationship between health operators and patients, with particular attention to the procedure, the meaning the value either professional or deontologic, of ethics and the legality of the informed consensus. Emphasis is put on medical and experimental abuses that occurred in Germany during the nazi regime.
doi:10.11138/ads.0138
PMCID: PMC3671810  PMID: 23741533
history of bioethics; dentistry in the nazi Germany
3.  Nuremberg lamentation: for the forgotten victims of medical science. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1996;313(7070):1463-1467.
Fifty years after the Nuremberg medical trial there remain many unanswered questions about the role of the German medical profession during the Third Reich. Other than the question of human experimentation, important ethical challenges arising from medicine in Nazi Germany which have continuing relevance were not addressed at Nuremberg. The underlying moral question is that of the exercise of professional power and its impact on vulnerable people seeking medical care. Sensitisation to the obligations of professional power may be achieved by an annual commemoration and lament to the memory of the victims of medical abuse which would serve as a recurring reminder of the physician's vulnerability and fallibility.
Images
PMCID: PMC2352986  PMID: 8973236
4.  Human guinea pigs and the ethics of experimentation: the BMJ's correspondent at the Nuremberg medical trial. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1996;313(7070):1467-1470.
Though the Nuremberg medical trial was a United States military tribunal, British forensic pathologists supplied extensive evidence for the trial. The BMJ had a correspondent at the trial, and he endorsed a utilitarian legitimation of clinical experiments, justifying the medical research carried out under Nazism as of long term scientific benefit despite the human costs. The British supported an international medical commission to evaluate the ethics and scientific quality of German research. Medical opinions differed over whether German medical atrocities should be given publicity or treated in confidence. The BMJ's correspondent warned against medical researchers being taken over by a totalitarian state, and these arguments were used to oppose the NHS and any state control over medical research.
Images
PMCID: PMC2352949  PMID: 8973237
5.  The Nuremberg Code subverts human health and safety by requiring animal modeling 
BMC Medical Ethics  2012;13:16.
Background
The requirement that animals be used in research and testing in order to protect humans was formalized in the Nuremberg Code and subsequent national and international laws, codes, and declarations.
Discussion
We review the history of these requirements and contrast what was known via science about animal models then with what is known now. We further analyze the predictive value of animal models when used as test subjects for human response to drugs and disease. We explore the use of animals for models in toxicity testing as an example of the problem with using animal models.
Summary
We conclude that the requirements for animal testing found in the Nuremberg Code were based on scientifically outdated principles, compromised by people with a vested interest in animal experimentation, serve no useful function, increase the cost of drug development, and prevent otherwise safe and efficacious drugs and therapies from being implemented.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-13-16
PMCID: PMC3532312  PMID: 22769234
Animal; Biological complexity; Ethics; Evolution; Law; Nuremberg code; Species variation
6.  Nuremberg and Tuskegee: lessons for contemporary American medicine. 
The activities of German doctors during the Nazi regime are well known and documented. They include efforts at eugenic sterilization and euthanasia, gruesome medical experimentation, and contributions to genocide. The German medical profession embraced the Nazi ideology of racial superiority. Nazi doctors enthusiastically perverted traditional medical mores of viewing each patient as a full individual towards a misguided sense of protecting the racial well-being of the nation from the perceived threat of certain groups of people. Similarly, some 20th-century American physicians engaged in activities prompted by a misguided sense of patients' worth as individuals. This essay will examine the ethical problems of Nazi medicine and ethical missteps in the United States in the context of challenges for contemporary physicians, particularly the way in which we refer to our patients.
PMCID: PMC2594827  PMID: 14717481
7.  Ethics in Clinical Research: The Indian Perspective 
Ethics in clinical research focuses largely on identifying and implementing the acceptable conditions for exposure of some individuals to risks and burdens for the benefit of society at large. Ethical guidelines for clinical research were formulated only after discovery of inhumane behaviour with participants during research experiments. The Nuremberg Code was the first international code laying ethical principles for clinical research. With increasing research all over, World Health Organization formulated guidelines in the form of Declaration of Helsinki in 1964. The US laid down its guidelines for ethical principles in the Belmont Report after discovery of the Tuskegee's Syphilis study. The Indian Council of Medical Research has laid down the ‘Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research on Human Subjects’ in the year 2000 which were revised in 2006. It gives twelve general principles to be followed by all biomedical researchers working in the country. The Ethics Committee stands as the bridge between the researcher and the ethical guidelines of the country. The basic responsibility of the Ethics Committee is to ensure an independent, competent and timely review of all ethical aspects of the project proposals received in order to safeguard the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of all actual or potential research participants. A well-documented informed consent process is the hallmark of any ethical research work. Informed consent respects individual's autonomy, to participate or not to participate in research. Concepts of vulnerable populations, therapeutic misconception and post trial access hold special importance in ethical conduct of research, especially in developing countries like India, where most of the research participants are uneducated and economically backward.
PMCID: PMC3267294  PMID: 22303053
Clinical research; ethics; ethics committees; ICMR guidelines; informed consent
8.  Ethical and legal constraints to children’s participation in research in Zimbabwe: experiences from the multicenter pediatric HIV ARROW trial 
BMC Medical Ethics  2012;13:17.
Background
Clinical trials involving children previously considered unethical are now considered essential because of the inherent physiological differences between children and adults. An integral part of research ethics is the informed consent, which for children is obtained by proxy from a consenting parent or guardian. The informed consent process is governed by international ethical codes that are interpreted in accordance with local laws and procedures raising the importance of contextualizing their implementation.
Findings
In Zimbabwe the parental informed consent document for children participating in clinical research is modeled along western laws of ethics and requires that the parent or legally authorized representative provide consent on behalf of a minor. This article highlights the experiences and lessons learnt by Zimbabwean researchers in obtaining informed consent from guardians of orphaned children participating in a collaborative HIV clinical trial involving the Medical Research Council, United Kingdom and four centers, three of which are in Uganda. Researchers were faced with a situation where caregivers of orphaned children were not permitted to provide informed consent for trial participation. The situation contrasted with general clinical practice where consent for procedures on orphans is obtained from their caregivers who are not legal guardians.
Conclusion
The challenges faced in obtaining informed consent for orphans in this clinical trial underscores the need for the Zimbabwe ethics committee to develop an ethical and legal framework for pediatric research that is based on international guidelines while taking into account the cultural context. The Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe has since started the process that is expected to involve critical stakeholders namely the community including children, ethicists, the legal fraternity and researchers.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-13-17
PMCID: PMC3521203  PMID: 22818109
9.  Key Ethical Issues in Pediatric Research: Islamic Perspective, Iranian Experience 
Iranian Journal of Pediatrics  2012;22(4):435-444.
Objective
The importance of pediatric research especially in the ethically proven trials resulted in considerable legislative attempts in association with compiling ethical guidelines. Because of children's vulnerability conducting pediatric research raises different ethical issues; the two most important of which are informed consent and risk-benefit assessment. Differences in religious and socio-cultural context limit implication of ethical standards.
Methods
At the aim of finding a solution we critically reviewed guidelines, and literatures as well as Islamic points in addition to comparing different viewpoints in application of ethical standards in pediatric research.
Findings
The literature review showed that pediatric research guidelines and authors’ viewpoints have the same basic ethical core, but there are some variations; depend on cultural, religious, and social differences. Furthermore, these standards have some limitations in defining informed consent according to child's age and capacity upon application.
Conclusion
In this regard Islamic approach and definition about growth development and puberty sheds light and clarifies a clearer and more rational address to the issue.
PMCID: PMC3533141  PMID: 23429172
Children; Pediatric Research; Ethics; Islamic Law
10.  Microbicide research in developing countries: have we given the ethical concerns due consideration? 
BMC Medical Ethics  2007;8:10.
Background
HIV prevention research has been fraught with ethical concerns since its inception. These concerns were highlighted during HIV vaccine research and have been elaborated in microbicide research. A host of unique ethical concerns pervade the microbicide research process from trial design to post-trial microbicide availability. Given the urgency of research and development in the face of the devastating HIV pandemic, these ethical concerns represent an enormous challenge for investigators, sponsors and Research Ethics Committees (RECs) both locally and internationally.
Discussion
Ethical concerns relating to safety in microbicide research are a major international concern. However, in the urgency to develop a medically efficacious microbicide, some of these concerns may not have been anticipated. In the risk-benefit assessment of research protocols, both medical and psycho-social risk must be considered. In this paper four main areas that have a potential for medical and/or psycho-social harm are examined. Male partner involvement is controversial in the setting of covert use of microbicides. However, given the long-term exposure of men to experimental products, this may be methodologically, ethically and legally important. Covert use of microbicides may impact negatively on relationship dynamics leading to psychosocial harm to varying extents. The unexpectedly high rates of pregnancy during clinical trials raise important methodological and ethical concerns. Enrollment of adolescents without parental consent generates ethical and legal concerns that must be carefully considered by RECs and trial sites. Finally, paradoxical outcomes in recent trials internationally have advanced the debate on the nature of informed consent and responsibility of researchers to participants who become HIV positive during or after trials.
Summary
Phase 3 microbicide trials are an undisputed research and ethical priority in developing countries. However, such trials must be conducted with attention to both methodological and ethical detail. It is imperative that guidelines are formulated to ensure that high ethical standards are maintained despite the scientific urgency of microbicide development. Given the controversy raised by emergent ethical issues during the course of microbicide development, it is important that international consensus is reached amongst the various ethics and regulatory agencies in developing and developed countries alike.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-8-10
PMCID: PMC2082018  PMID: 17877834
11.  Informed consent: Issues and challenges 
Informed consent is an ethical and legal requirement for research involving human participants. It is the process where a participant is informed about all aspects of the trial, which are important for the participant to make a decision and after studying all aspects of the trial the participant voluntarily confirms his or her willingness to participate in a particular clinical trial and significance of the research for advancement of medical knowledge and social welfare. The concept of informed consent is embedded in the principles of Nuremberg Code, The Declaration of Helsinki and The Belmont Report. Informed consent is an inevitable requirement prior to every research involving human being as subjects for study. Obtaining consent involves informing the subject about his or her rights, the purpose of the study, procedures to be undertaken, potential risks and benefits of participation, expected duration of study, extent of confidentiality of personal identification and demographic data, so that the participation of subjects in the study is entirely voluntary. This article provides an overview of issues in informed consent: The obligations of investigator, sponsor and Institutional Review Board to protect rights and welfare of human research subjects. It discusses about the basic elements of informed consent and the process to be followed while obtaining informed consent. Some of the circumstances under which informed consent can be waived and ethical challenges faced by physicians in obtaining informed consent from subjects are also highlighted in this article.
doi:10.4103/2231-4040.116779
PMCID: PMC3777303  PMID: 24083200
Human subjects; informed consent; institutional review board
12.  Researchers’ perceptions of ethical challenges in cluster randomized trials: a qualitative analysis 
Trials  2013;14:1.
Background
Cluster randomized trials (CRTs) pose ethical challenges for investigators and ethics committees. This study describes the views and experiences of CRT researchers with respect to: (1) ethical challenges in CRTs; (2) the ethics review process for CRTs; and (3) the need for comprehensive ethics guidelines for CRTs.
Methods
Descriptive qualitative analysis of interviews conducted with a purposive sample of 20 experienced CRT researchers.
Results
Informants expressed concern over the potential for bias that may result from requirements to obtain informed consent from research participants in CRTs. Informants suggested that the need for informed consent ought to be related to the type of intervention under study in a CRT. Informants rarely expressed concern regarding risks to research participants in CRTs, other than risks to privacy. Important issues identified in the research ethics literature, including fair subject selection and other justice issues, were not mentioned by informants. The ethics review process has had positive and negative impacts on CRT conduct. Informants stated that variability in ethics review between jurisdictions, and increasingly stringent ethics review in recent years, have hampered their ability to conduct CRTs. Many informants said that comprehensive ethics guidelines for CRTs would be helpful to researchers and research ethics committees.
Conclusions
Informants identified key ethical challenges in the conduct of CRTs, specifically relating to identifying subjects, seeking informed consent, and the use of gatekeepers. These data have since been used to identify topics for in-depth ethical analysis and to guide the development of comprehensive ethics guidelines for CRTs.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-1
PMCID: PMC3561139  PMID: 23286245
Cluster randomized trials; Research ethics; Informed consent; Clinical trials; Bioethics; Knowledge translation; Quality improvement; Implementation research
13.  Improving Ethical and Participatory Practice for Marginalized Populations in Biomedical HIV Prevention Trials: Lessons from Thailand 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100058.
Background
This paper presents findings from a qualitative investigation of ethical and participatory issues related to the conduct of biomedical HIV prevention trials among marginalized populations in Thailand. This research was deemed important to conduct, as several large-scale biomedical HIV prevention trials among marginalized populations had closed prematurely in other countries, and a better understanding of how to prevent similar trial closures from occurring in the future was desired.
Methods
In-depth key informant interviews were held in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, translated and thematically analyzed. The Good Participatory Practice Guidelines for Biomedical HIV Prevention Trials (GPP) guided this work.
Results
Fourteen interviews were conducted: 10 with policymakers, academic and community-based researchers and trial staff and four with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Suggested ways to improve ethical and participatory practice centered on standards of HIV prevention, informed consent, communication and human rights. In particular, the need to overcome language and literacy differences was identified. Key informants felt communication was the basis of ethical understanding and trust within biomedical HIV prevention trial contexts, and thus fundamental to trial participants' ability to exercise free will.
Discussion
Biomedical HIV prevention trials present opportunities for inclusive and productive ethical and participatory practice. Key informants suggested that efforts to improve practice could result in better relationships between research stakeholders and research investigative teams and by extension, better, more ethical participatory trials. This research took place in Thailand and its findings apply primarily to Thailand. However, given the universality of many ethical considerations, the results of this study can inform the improvement of ethical and participatory practice in other parts of the world where biomedical HIV prevention trials occur, and where clinical trials in marginalized populations continue.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100058
PMCID: PMC4064984  PMID: 24949864
14.  European legislation impedes critical care research and fails to protect patients' rights 
Critical Care  2011;15(2):148.
The European Clinical Trials Directive requires an informed consent from the patient or a proxy in drug trials. Although informed consent is a valuable tool to protect patients' rights in clinical trials, this requirement largely impedes research in critical care settings, and if pursued in this context, it does not provide the patient with adequate protection. Instead of insisting on informed consent, we suggest that the focus should be shifted towards two other ethically relevant elements in human experimentation: risk assessment and selection of research subjects. When reviewing protocols in which a waiver of consent is deemed necessary, the Ethical Review Board should ensure that non-therapeutic risks are minimal, that the research is specifically designed to benefit critically ill patients, and that it cannot be conducted under circumstances where an informed consent can be obtained. If the European Directive is changed accordingly, this permits clinical trials in critical care settings, while adequate protection from risky non-therapeutic procedures is ensured and exploitation of the patient as an easily accessible research subject is prevented.
doi:10.1186/cc10113
PMCID: PMC3219370  PMID: 21542880
15.  Informed Consent in Research to Improve the Number and Quality of Deceased-Donor Organs 
Critical care medicine  2011;39(2):280-283.
Improving the management of potential organ donors in the ICU could meet an important public health goal by increasing the number and quality of transplantable organs. However, randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are needed to quantify the extent to which specific interventions might enhance organ recovery and outcomes among transplant recipients. Among several barriers to conducting such studies are the absence of guidelines for obtaining informed consent for such studies, and the fact that deceased organ donors are not covered by extant federal regulations governing oversight of research with human subjects. This paper explores the underexamined ethical issues that arise in the context of donor management studies, and provides ethical guidelines and suggested regulatory oversight mechanisms to enable such studies to be conducted ethically. We conclude that both the respect that is traditionally accorded to the prior wishes of the dead and the possibility of post-mortem harm support a role for surrogate consent of donors in such RCTs. Furthermore, although recipients will often be considered human subjects under federal regulations, several ethical arguments support waiving requirements for recipient consent in donor management RCTs. Finally, we suggest that new regulatory mechanisms, perhaps linked to existing regional and national organ donation and transplantation infrastructures, must be established to protect patients in donor management studies while limiting unnecessary barriers to the conduct of this important research.
doi:10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181feeb04
PMCID: PMC3717371  PMID: 20975549
informed consent; organ donation; transplantation; research ethics
16.  Obstacles to researching the researchers: A case study of the ethical challenges of undertaking methodological research investigating the reporting of randomised controlled trials 
Trials  2010;11:28.
Background
Recent cohort studies of randomised controlled trials have provided evidence of within-study selective reporting bias; where statistically significant outcomes are more likely to be more completely reported compared to non-significant outcomes. Bias resulting from selective reporting can impact on meta-analyses, influencing the conclusions of systematic reviews, and in turn, evidence based clinical practice guidelines.
In 2006 we received funding to investigate if there was evidence of within-study selective reporting in a cohort of RCTs submitted to New Zealand Regional Ethics Committees in 1998/99. This research involved accessing ethics applications, their amendments and annual reports, and comparing these with corresponding publications. We did not plan to obtain informed consent from trialists to view their ethics applications for practical and scientific reasons.
In November 2006 we sought ethical approval to undertake the research from our institutional ethics committee. The Committee declined our application on the grounds that we were not obtaining informed consent from the trialists to view their ethics application. This initiated a seventeen month process to obtain ethical approval. This publication outlines what we planned to do, the issues we encountered, discusses the legal and ethical issues, and presents some potential solutions.
Discussion and conclusion
Methodological research such as this has the potential for public benefit and there is little or no harm for the participants (trialists) in undertaking it. Further, in New Zealand, there is freedom of information legislation, which in this circumstance, unambiguously provided rights of access and use of the information in the ethics applications. The decision of our institutional ethics committee defeated this right and did not recognise the nature of this observational research.
Methodological research, such as this, can be used to develop processes to improve quality in research reporting. Recognition of the potential benefit of this research in the broader research community, and those who sit on ethics committees, is perhaps needed. In addition, changes to the ethical review process which involve separation between those who review proposals to undertake methodological research using ethics applications, and those with responsibility for reviewing ethics applications for trials, should be considered. Finally, we contend that the research community could benefit from quality improvement approaches used in allied sectors.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-11-28
PMCID: PMC2846843  PMID: 20302671
17.  When is informed consent required in cluster randomized trials in health research? 
Trials  2011;12:202.
This article is part of a series of papers examining ethical issues in cluster randomized trials (CRTs) in health research. In the introductory paper in this series, we set out six areas of inquiry that must be addressed if the cluster trial is to be set on a firm ethical foundation. This paper addresses the second of the questions posed, namely, from whom, when, and how must informed consent be obtained in CRTs in health research? The ethical principle of respect for persons implies that researchers are generally obligated to obtain the informed consent of research subjects. Aspects of CRT design, including cluster randomization, cluster level interventions, and cluster size, present challenges to obtaining informed consent. Here we address five questions related to consent and CRTs: How can a study proceed if informed consent is not possible? Is consent to randomization always required? What information must be disclosed to potential subjects if their cluster has already been randomized? Is passive consent a valid substitute for informed consent? Do health professionals have a moral obligation to participate as subjects in CRTs designed to improve professional practice?
We set out a framework based on the moral foundations of informed consent and international regulatory provisions to address each of these questions. First, when informed consent is not possible, a study may proceed if a research ethics committee is satisfied that conditions for a waiver of consent are satisfied. Second, informed consent to randomization may not be required if it is not possible to approach subjects at the time of randomization. Third, when potential subjects are approached after cluster randomization, they must be provided with a detailed description of the interventions in the trial arm to which their cluster has been randomized; detailed information on interventions in other trial arms need not be provided. Fourth, while passive consent may serve a variety of practical ends, it is not a substitute for valid informed consent. Fifth, while health professionals may have a moral obligation to participate as subjects in research, this does not diminish the necessity of informed consent to study participation.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-12-202
PMCID: PMC3184061  PMID: 21906277
18.  Evaluation of clinical trials by Ethics Committees in Germany - Experience of applicants with the review of requests for opinion of the Ethics Committees - results of a survey among members of the German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA) 
The review of requests for a positive opinion of the ethics committees (application procedure) as a requirement to start a clinical trial in Germany has been completely redesigned with the transposition of EU Directive 2001/20/EC in the 12th Amendment of the German Medicines Act in August 2004. The experience of applicants (sponsors, legal representatives of sponsors in the EU and persons or organizations authorized by the sponsors to make the application, respectively) in terms of interactions with the ethics committees in Germany has been positive overall, especially with respect to ethics committee adherence to the statutory timelines applicable for review of requests. However, inconsistencies between ethics committees exist in terms of the form and content of the requirements for application documents and their evaluation.
With the objective of further improving both the quality of applications and the evaluation of those applications by ethics committees, a survey among members of the German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA) was conducted from January to April 2008. Based on reasoned opinions issued by the respective ethics committee in charge of the coordinating principal investigator (coordinating ethics committee), the type and frequency of formal and content-related objections to applications according to § 7 of the German Good Clinical Practice (GCP) Regulation were systematically documented, and qualitative and quantitative analyses performed. 21 out of 44 members of the VFA participated in the survey. 288 applications for Phase I–IV studies submitted between January and December 2007 to 40 ethics committees were evaluated.
This survey shows that about one in six applications is incomplete and has formal and/or content objections, respectively, especially those that pertain to documents demonstrating the qualification of the investigator and/or suitability of the facilities. These objections are attributable to some extent to the differing and/or unclear requirements of the individual ethics committees on the content and comprehension of the submission documents. However, applicants also need to pay more attention to the completeness and validity of the submission documents. The majority of content-related objections apply to the patient information and consent documents and study protocols submitted. Applicants on average acted upon only 3 out of 4 objections, for various reasons: the relevant information was already given in the submitted documents, but had not been taken into consideration by the ethics committees; objections were not applicable; objections lacked a legal basis. In such cases the applicants made reference to the specific information already submitted or gave reasons for not acting on the objection. This course of action was accepted by the ethics committees, with few exceptions. The survey sheds light on the existing inconsistencies in the evaluations of applications by the various ethics committees and suggests ways in which the existing constructive dialogue between applicants and ethics committees may provide a basis to further harmonize both the requirements regarding form and content of application documents, and the criteria for evaluation of applications by ethics committees within the legal framework.
doi:10.3205/000066
PMCID: PMC2716553  PMID: 19675747
ethics committees; application procedure; formal and content-related objections; clinical trials
19.  Inclusion of Ethical Issues in Dementia Guidelines: A Thematic Text Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001498.
Background
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve professionalism in health care. However, current CPG development manuals fail to address how to include ethical issues in a systematic and transparent manner. The objective of this study was to assess the representation of ethical issues in general CPGs on dementia care.
Methods and Findings
To identify national CPGs on dementia care, five databases of guidelines were searched and national psychiatric associations were contacted in August 2011 and in June 2013. A framework for the assessment of the identified CPGs' ethical content was developed on the basis of a prior systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Thematic text analysis and a 4-point rating score were employed to assess how ethical issues were addressed in the identified CPGs. Twelve national CPGs were included. Thirty-one ethical issues in dementia care were identified by the prior systematic review. The proportion of these 31 ethical issues that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% to 77%, with a median of 49.5%. National guidelines differed substantially with respect to (a) which ethical issues were represented, (b) whether ethical recommendations were included, (c) whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and (d) to what extent the ethical issues were explained.
Conclusions
Ethical issues were inconsistently addressed in national dementia guidelines, with some guidelines including most and some including few ethical issues. Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines. There is a need for further research to specify how detailed ethical issues and their respective recommendations can and should be addressed in dementia guidelines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
In the past, doctors tended to rely on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with dementia (a brain disorder that affects short-term memory and the ability tocarry out normal daily activities), for example, a doctor would use his/her own experience to help decide whether the patient should remain at home or would be better cared for in a nursing home. Similarly, the doctor might have to decide whether antipsychotic drugs might be necessary to reduce behavioral or psychological symptoms such as restlessness or shouting. However, over the past two decades, numerous evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations that aim to improve standards of clinical competence and professionalism in health care. During the development of each guideline, experts search the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluate the quality of that evidence, and then make recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, CPG development manuals do not address how to include ethical issues in CPGs. A health-care professional is ethical if he/she behaves in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the medical profession. More specifically, medical professionalism is based on a set of binding ethical principles—respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance (the “do no harm” principle), and justice. In particular, CPG development manuals do not address disease-specific ethical issues (DSEIs), clinical ethical situations that are relevant to the management of a specific disease. So, for example, a DSEI that arises in dementia care is the conflict between the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and patient autonomy (freedom-to-move-at-will). Thus, healthcare professionals may have to decide to physically restrain a patient with dementia to prevent the patient doing harm to him- or herself or to someone else. Given the lack of guidance on how to address ethical issues in CPG development manuals, in this thematic text analysis, the researchers assess the representation of ethical issues in CPGs on general dementia care. Thematic text analysis uses a framework for the assessment of qualitative data (information that is word-based rather than number-based) that involves pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (themes) among the available data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 12 national CPGs on dementia care by searching guideline databases and by contacting national psychiatric associations. They developed a framework for the assessment of the ethical content in these CPGs based on a previous systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Of the 31 DSEIs included by the researchers in their analysis, the proportion that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% (Switzerland) to 77% (USA); on average the CPGs explicitly addressed half of the DSEIs. Four DSEIs—adequate consideration of advanced directives in decision making, usage of GPS and other monitoring techniques, covert medication, and dealing with suicidal thinking—were not addressed in at least 11 of the CPGs. The inclusion of recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs ranged from 10% of DSEIs covered in the Swiss CPG to 71% covered in the US CPG. Overall, national guidelines differed substantially with respect to which ethical issues were included, whether ethical recommendations were included, whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and to what extent the ethical issues were clearly explained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs is considered varies widely within and between CPGs. They also indicate that recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs often lack the evidence that health-care professionals use to justify their clinical decisions. The researchers suggest that this situation can and should be improved, although more research is needed to determine how ethical issues and recommendations should be addressed in dementia guidelines. A more systematic and transparent inclusion of DSEIs in CPGs for dementia (and for other conditions) would further support the concept of medical professionalism as a core element of CPGs, note the researchers, but is also important for patients and their relatives who might turn to national CPGs for information and guidance at a stressful time of life.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498.
Wikipedia contains a page on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on national guidelines, including CPGs for dementia
The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
The American Medical Association provides information about medical ethics; the British Medical Association provides information on all aspects of ethics and includes an essential tool kit that introduces common ethical problems and practical ways to deal with them
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about dementia, including a personal story about dealing with dementia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and about Alzheimers disease, a specific type of dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics provides the report Dementia: ethical issues and additional information on the public consultation on ethical issues in dementia care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498
PMCID: PMC3742442  PMID: 23966839
20.  Taking social relationships seriously: Lessons learned from the informed consent practices of a vaccine trial on the Kenyan Coast 
Social Science & Medicine (1982)  2008;67(5):708-720.
Individual informed consent is a key ethical obligation for clinical studies, but empirical studies show that key requirements are often not met. Common recommendations to strengthen consent in low income settings include seeking permission from community members through existing structures before approaching individuals, considering informed consent as a process rather than a single event, and assessing participant understanding using questionnaires. In this paper, we report on a qualitative study exploring community understanding and perceptions of a malaria vaccine trial (MVT) conducted in a rural setting on the Kenyan Coast. The MVT incorporated all of the above recommendations into its information-giving processes. The findings support the importance of community level information-giving and of giving information on several different occasions before seeking final individual consent. However, an emerging issue was that inter-personal interactions and relationships between researchers and community members, and within the community, play a critical role in participants' perceptions of a study, their decisions to consent or withdraw, and their advice to researchers on study practicalities and information to feedback at the end of the trial. These relationships are based on and continually tested by information-giving processes, and by context specific concerns and interests that can be difficult to predict and are well beyond the timescale and reach of single research activities. On the basis of these findings, we suggest that the current move towards increasingly ambitious and stringent formal standards for information-giving to individuals be counter-balanced with greater attention to the diverse social relationships that are essential to the successful application of these procedures. This may be assisted by emphasising respecting communities as well as persons, and by recognising that current guidelines and regulations may be an inadequate response to the complex, often unpredictable and ever shifting ethical dilemmas facing research teams working ‘in the field’.
doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.02.003
PMCID: PMC2682177  PMID: 18362046
Informed consent; Vaccine trials; Rumours; Clinical research; Testing understanding; Developing countries; Kenya
21.  Do Editorial Policies Support Ethical Research? A Thematic Text Analysis of Author Instructions in Psychiatry Journals 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e97492.
Introduction
According to the Declaration of Helsinki and other guidelines, clinical studies should be approved by a research ethics committee and seek valid informed consent from the participants. Editors of medical journals are encouraged by the ICMJE and COPE to include requirements for these principles in the journal’s instructions for authors. This study assessed the editorial policies of psychiatry journals regarding ethics review and informed consent.
Methods and Findings
The information given on ethics review and informed consent and the mentioning of the ICMJE and COPE recommendations were assessed within author’s instructions and online submission procedures of all 123 eligible psychiatry journals. While 54% and 58% of editorial policies required ethics review and informed consent, only 14% and 19% demanded the reporting of these issues in the manuscript. The TOP-10 psychiatry journals (ranked by impact factor) performed similarly in this regard.
Conclusions
Only every second psychiatry journal adheres to the ICMJE’s recommendation to inform authors about requirements for informed consent and ethics review. Furthermore, we argue that even the ICMJE’s recommendations in this regard are insufficient, at least for ethically challenging clinical trials. At the same time, ideal scientific design sometimes even needs to be compromised for ethical reasons. We suggest that features of clinical studies that make them morally controversial, but not necessarily unethical, are analogous to methodological limitations and should thus be reported explicitly. Editorial policies as well as reporting guidelines such as CONSORT should be extended to support a meaningful reporting of ethical research.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097492
PMCID: PMC4046953  PMID: 24901366
22.  The DiReCT study - improving recruitment into clinical trials: a mixed methods study investigating the ethical acceptability, feasibility and recruitment yield of the cohort multiple randomised controlled trials design 
Trials  2014;15(1):398.
Background
The ‘cohort multiple Randomised Controlled Trial’ (cmRCT) design has been proposed as a potential solution to poor recruitment into clinical trials. The design randomly selects participants eligible for experimental treatments from a pre-enrolled cohort of patients, recruiting participants to multiple trials from a single cohort. Controls remain unaware of their participation in specific trials.
Methods
We undertook a mixed methods study to determine the ethical acceptability, the proportion of patients in a routine service consenting to cohort participation, the proportion of these who would consent to being hypothetically randomly selected to receive new treatments, and the views of clinicians on the acceptability of the design. We submitted our cmRCT design for ethical review and recruited participants from people with anxiety and depression attending a community mental health service of twenty-one clinicians. We recorded the proportion of patients who were offered participation in the DiReCT study and the proportion that consented to researcher contact, medical record sharing, and who accepted to be randomly allocated to active treatment procedures in future hypothetical unspecified clinical trials. We used a thematic framework analysis to analyse clinician interviews.
Results
We obtained a favourable ethical opinion from the UK Health Research Authority. Clinicians approached 131/752 (17%) potentially eligible participants for consent. Of these 131, 84 (64%) initially consented to be contacted by a researcher and all but one consented to being randomised into future trials. We confirmed consent for 71 (54%) of participants approached by clinicians, of whom 69 (53%) consented to being randomised into hypothetical future trials, 9% (69/752) of all potentially eligible patients. The interviewed clinicians described issues impacting on their ability to recruit participants in terms of clinical concerns for patient wellbeing, work pressure, their views of both general research and the specific DiReCT study, and how they viewed patients’ responses to being offered participation in the study.
Conclusions
The cmRCT system offers the potential to improve the recruitment into clinical trials and is acceptable ethically and to many patients. Overcoming the multiple factors driving the difficulties clinicians experience in patient recruitment is likely to require the application of significant implementation science-informed effort.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-398
PMCID: PMC4210622  PMID: 25318374
23.  Informed recruitment in partner studies of HIV transmission: an ethical issue in couples research 
BMC Medical Ethics  2009;10:14.
Background
Much attention has been devoted to ethical issues related to randomized controlled trials for HIV treatment and prevention. However, there has been less discussion of ethical issues surrounding families involved in observational studies of HIV transmission. This paper describes the process of ethical deliberation about how best to obtain informed consent from sex partners of injection drug users (IDUs) tested for HIV, within a recent HIV study in Eastern Europe. The study aimed to assess the amount of HIV serodiscordance among IDUs and their sexual partners, identify barriers to harm reduction, and explore ways to optimize intervention programs. Including IDUs, either HIV-positive or at high risk for HIV, and their sexual partners would help to gain a more complete understanding of barriers to and opportunities for intervention.
Discussion
This paper focuses on the ethical dilemma regarding informed recruitment: whether researchers should disclose to sexual partners of IDUs that they were recruited because their partner injects drugs (i.e., their heightened risk for HIV). Disclosing risks to partners upholds the ethical value of respect for persons through informed consent. However, disclosure compromises the IDU's confidentiality, and potentially, the scientific validity of the research. Following a brief literature review, we summarize the researchers' systematic evaluation of this issue from ethical, scientific, and logistical perspectives. While the cultural context may be somewhat unique to Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the issues raised and solutions proposed here inform epidemiological research designs and their underlying ethical tensions.
Summary
We present ethical arguments in favor of disclosure, discuss how cultural context shapes the ethical issues, and recommend refinement of guidance for couples research of communicable diseases to assist investigators encountering these ethical issues in the future.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-10-14
PMCID: PMC2751767  PMID: 19709442
24.  Biobanking research on oncological residual material: a framework between the rights of the individual and the interest of society 
BMC Medical Ethics  2013;14:17.
Background
The tissue biobanking of specific biological residual materials, which constitutes a useful resource for medical/scientific research, has raised some ethical issues, such as the need to define which kind of consent is applicable for biological residual materials biobanks.
Discussion
Biobank research cannot be conducted without considering arguments for obtaining the donors’ consent: in this paper we discuss to what extent consent in biobank research on oncological residual materials has to be required, and what type of consent would be appropriate in this context, considering the ethical principles of donation, solidarity, protection of the donors’ rights and the requirements of scientific progress. Regarding the relationship between informed consent and tissue collection, storage and research, we have focused on two possible choices related to the treatment of data and samples in the biobank: irreversible and reversible anonymization of the samples, distinguishing between biobank research on residual materials for which obtaining consent is necessary and justified, and biobank research for which it is not. The procedures involve different approaches and possible solutions that we will seek to define. The consent for clinical research reported in the Helsinki Declaration regards research involving human beings and for this reason it is subordinate to specific and detailed information on the research projects.
Summary
An important ethical aspect in regard to the role of Biobanks is encouraging sample donation. For donors, seeing human samples being kept rather than discarded, and seeing them become useful for research highlights the importance of the human body and improves the attitude towards donation. This process might also facilitate the giving of informed consent more willingly, and with greater trust.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-14-17
PMCID: PMC3616854  PMID: 23547565
Biobanks; Consent; Oncological residual material; Cancer biobanks; Residual materials biobanks; Informed consent; Ethics; Research; Solidarity
25.  Specimen Collection for Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Research: Harmonizing the Approach to Informed Consent 
Prospective donation of tissue specimens for induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) research requires an approach to informed consent that is constructed for this context. Approaches to informed consent have been variable in ways that threaten the simultaneous goals of protecting donors and safeguarding future research and translation, and investigators are seeking guidance. This analysis addresses this need by providing concrete recommendations for informed consent that balance the goals of iPSC and regenerative medicine researchers with the interests of individual research participants.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have elicited excitement in both the scientific and ethics communities for their potential to advance basic and translational research. They have been hailed as an alternative to derivation from embryos that provides a virtually unlimited source of pluripotent stem cells for research and therapeutic applications. However, research with iPSCs is ethically complex, uniquely encompassing the concerns associated with genomics, immortalized cell lines, transplantation, human reproduction, and biobanking. Prospective donation of tissue specimens for iPSC research thus requires an approach to informed consent that is constructed for this context. Even in the nascent stages of this field, approaches to informed consent have been variable in ways that threaten the simultaneous goals of protecting donors and safeguarding future research and translation, and investigators are seeking guidance. We address this need by providing concrete recommendations for informed consent that balance the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders. Our work combines analysis of consent form language collected from investigators worldwide with a conceptual balancing of normative ethical concerns, policy precedents, and scientific realities. Our framework asks people to consent prospectively to a broad umbrella of foreseeable research, including future therapeutic applications, with recontact possible in limited circumstances. We argue that the long-term goals of regenerative medicine, interest in sharing iPSC lines, and uncertain landscape of future research all would be served by a framework of ongoing communication with donors. Our approach balances the goals of iPSC and regenerative medicine researchers with the interests of individual research participants.
doi:10.5966/sctm.2012-0029
PMCID: PMC3659701  PMID: 23197820
Clinical translation; Ethics; iPS; Induced pluripotent stem cells

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