Vulnerability in research and health care; describing the elephant in the room?

Bioethics 22 (4):191–202 (2008)
Abstract
Despite broad agreement that the vulnerable have a claim to special protection, defining vulnerable persons or populations has proved more difficult than we would like. This is a theoretical as well as a practical problem, as it hinders both convincing justifications for this claim and the practical application of required protections. In this paper, I review consent-based, harm-based, and comprehensive definitions of vulnerability in healthcare and research with human subjects. Although current definitions are subject to critique, their underlying assumptions may be complementary. I propose that we should define vulnerability in research and healthcare as an identifiably increased likelihood of incurring additional or greater wrong. In order to identify the vulnerable, as well as the type of protection that they need, this definition requires that we start from the sorts of wrongs likely to occur and from identifiable increments in the likelihood, or to the likely degree, that these wrongs will occur. It is limited but appropriately so, as it only applies to special protection, not to any protection to which we have a valid claim. Using this definition would clarify that the normative force of claims for special protection does not rest with vulnerability itself, but with pre-existing claims when these are more likely to be denied. Such a clarification could help those who carry responsibility for the protection of vulnerable populations, such as Institutional Review Boards, to define the sort of protection required in a more targeted and effective manner.
Keywords clinical ethics  research ethics  vulnerable populations  patient selection
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 10,337
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 18 references

Citations of this work BETA
Ruth Macklin (2012). A Global Ethics Approach to Vulnerability. International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 5 (2):64-81.
Verina Wild (2012). How Are Pregnant Women Vulnerable Research Participants? International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 5 (2):82-104.
Samia A. Hurst (2012). Interventions and Persons. American Journal of Bioethics 12 (1):10 - 11.

View all 13 citations

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

34 ( #48,627 of 1,096,601 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #258,571 of 1,096,601 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.