Articles: The problem of privacy in transcultural research: Reflections on an ethnographic study in Sri lanka
Graduate studies at Western
Ethics and Behavior 14 (4):305 – 312 (2004)
|Abstract||Western laws and codes of ethics frequently require that private health information be treated confidentially. However, cross-cultural research shows that it is not always easy to determine what members of a culture consider to be private or how they wish private information to be handled. This article begins by presenting an ethnographic study of patient-healer relationships in Sri Lanka; researchers were surprised to find that participants' views of health and privacy differed greatly from typical Western views, and that the privacy protections they had put in place caused discomfort among participants. Building on this ethics case study, the article explores two main questions. First, can a single definition of privacy possibly do justice to the cultural variations that exist, or does a conceptual definition inevitably run the risk of ethnocentrism? Second, to what extent is strict compliance with research regulations or ethics codes ethically justifiable when following the rules will obviously cause unease in international participants?|
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