Uncertainty and the ethics of clinical trials

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 27 (2):149-167 (2006)
Abstract
A probabilistic explication is offered of equipoise and uncertainty in clinical trials. In order to be useful in the justification of clinical trials, equipoise has to be interpreted in terms of overlapping probability distributions of possible treatment outcomes, rather than point estimates representing expectation values. Uncertainty about treatment outcomes is shown to be a necessary but insufficient condition for the ethical defensibility of clinical trials. Additional requirements are proposed for the nature of that uncertainty. The indecisiveness of our criteria for cautious decision-making under uncertainty creates the leeway that makes clinical trials defensible.
Keywords cautiousness  clinical decision-making  clinical trials  equipoise  uncertainty
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Citations of this work BETA
Sven Ove Hansson (2011). Do We Need a Special Ethics for Research? Science and Engineering Ethics 17 (1):21-29.
Sven Ove Hansson (2010). Reversing “Research Exceptionalism”. American Journal of Bioethics 10 (8):66-67.
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