This is the table of contents of and introduction to a textbook entitled Bioethics in Canada. It will be published by Oxford University Press in March of 2013. It is designed mainly for use in Canada. Of the 51 articles that it contains, 26 are written by Canadians. -/- For further information, see http://www.oupcanada.com/catalog/9780195440157.html and http://www.amazon.ca/Bioethics-Canada-Charles-Weijer/dp/0195440153/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=13 59542985&sr=1-1.
Background: Publication of ethically uncertain research occurs despite well-published guidelines set forth in documents such as the Declaration of Helsinki. Such guidelines exist to aide editorial staff in making decisions regarding ethical acceptability of manuscripts submitted for publication, yet examples of ethically suspect and uncertain publication exist. Our objective was to survey journal editors regarding practices and attitudes surrounding such dilemmas. Methods: The Editor-in-chief of each of the 103 English-language journals from the 2005 Abridged Index Medicus list publishing original research (...) were asked to complete a survey sent to them by email between September-December 2007. Results: A response rate of 33% (n = 34) was obtained from the survey. 18% (n = 6) of respondents had published ethically uncertain or suspect research within the last 10 years. 85% (n = 29) of respondents stated they would always reject ethically uncertain articles submitted for publication on ethical grounds alone. 12% (n = 4) of respondents stated they would approach each submission on a case-by-case basis. 3% (n = 1) stated they would be likely to publish such research, but only with accompanying editorial. Only 38% (n = 13) give reviewers explicit instruction to reject submissions on ethical grounds if found wanting. Conclusions: Editorial compliance with the Declaration of Helsinki in rejecting research that is conducted unethically was difficult to ascertain because of a poor response rate despite multiple attempts using different modalities. Of those who did respond, the majority do reject ethically suspect research but few explicitly advise reviewers to do so. In this study editors did not take advantage of the opportunity to describe their support for the rejection of the publication of unethical research. (shrink)
Background: Concern has been growing in the academic literature and popular media about the licensing, introduction and adoption of surgical devices before full effectiveness and safety evidence is available to inform clinical practice. Our research will seek empirical survey evidence about the roles, responsibilities, and information and policy needs of the key stakeholders in the introduction into clinical practice of new surgical devices for pelvic floor surgery, in terms of the underlying ethical principals involved in the economic decision-making process, using (...) the example of pelvic floor procedures.Methods/DesignOur study involves three linked case studies using, as examples, selected pelvic floor surgery devices representing Health Canada device safety risk classes: low, medium and high risk. Data collection will focus on stakeholder roles and responsibilities, information and policy needs, and perceptions of those of other key stakeholders, in seeking and using evidence about new surgical devices when licensing and adopting them into practice. For each class of device, interviews will be used to seek the opinions of stakeholders. The following stakeholders and ethical and economic principles provide the theoretical framework for the study:Stakeholders - federal regulatory body, device manufacturers, clinicians, patients, health care institutions, provincial health departments, and professional societies. Clinical settings in two centres (in different provinces) will be included.Ethics - beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, justice.Economics - scarcity of resources, choices, opportunity costs.For each class of device, responses will be analysed to compare and contrast between stakeholders. Applied ethics and economic theory, analysis and critical interpretation will be used to further illuminate the case study material.DiscussionThe significance of our research in this new area of ethics will lie in providing recommendations for regulatory bodies, device manufacturers, clinicians, health care institutions, policy makers and professional societies, to ensure surgical patients receive sufficient information before providing consent for pelvic floor surgery. In addition, we shall provide a wealth of information for future study in other areas of surgery and clinical management, and provide suggestions for changes to health policy. (shrink)
This introductory chapter begins with a brief explanation of the impetus behind the book as well as its objectives. It then discusses the history of consent and the challenges for informed consent. An overview of the subsequent chapters is presented.
PURPOSE: There is an increasing demand for researchers to provide research results to participants. Our aim was to define an appropriate process for this, based on needs and attitudes of participants. METHODS: A multicenter survey in five sites in the United States and Canada was offered to parents of children with cancer and adolescents with cancer. Respondents indicated their preferred mode of communication of research results with respect to implications; timing, provider, and content of the results; reasons for and against (...) providing results; and barriers to providing results. RESULTS: Four hundred nine parents (including 19 of deceased children) and 86 adolescents responded. Most parents (n = 385; 94.2%) felt that they had a strong right to research results. For positive results, most wanted a letter or e-mail summary (n = 238; 58.2%) or a phone call followed by a letter (n = 100; 24.4%). If the results were negative, phone call (n = 136; 33.3%) or personal visits (n = 150; 36.7%) were preferred. Parents wanted the summary to include long-term sequelae and suggestions for participants (n = 341; 83.4%), effect on future treatments (n = 341; 83.4%), and subsequent research steps (n = 284; 69.5%). Understanding the researcher was a main concern about receiving results (n = 145; 35.5%). Parents felt that results provide information to support quality of life (n = 315; 77%) and raise public awareness of research (n = 282; 68.9%). Adolescents identified similar preferences. CONCLUSION: Parents of children with cancer and adolescents with cancer feel strongly that they have a right to be offered research results and have specific preferences of how and what information should be communicated. (shrink)
This chapter attempts to derive, define, and specify norms governing the relationship between physician-researcher and patient-subject, and to explore their interconnection. It argues that rooting the relationship between physician-researcher and patient-subject in a normative theory of trust is promising. It enables the derivation, definition, and specification of norms governing the relationship and appreciation of their interconnection.
Background: Low rates of participation of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) in clinical oncology trials may contribute to poorer outcomes. Factors that influence the decision of AYAs to participate in health research and whether these factors are different from those that affect the participation of parents of children with cancer. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of data from validated questionnaires provided to adolescents (>12 years old) diagnosed with cancer and parents of children with cancer at 3 sites in Canada (...) (Halifax, Vancouver, and Montreal) and 2 in the United States (Atlanta, GA, and Memphis, TN). Respondents reported their own research participation and cited factors that would influence their own decision to participate in, or to provide parental authorization for their child to participate in health research. Results: Completed questionnaire rates for AYAs and parents were 86 (46.5%) of 185 and 409 (65.2%) of 627, respectively. AYAs (n = 86 [67%]) and parents (n = 409 [85%]) cited that they would participate in research because it would help others. AYAs perceived pressure by their family and friends (16%) and their physician (19%). Having too much to think about at the time of accrual was an impediment to both groups (36% AYAs and 47% parents). The main deterrent for AYAs was that research would take up too much time (45%). Nonwhite parents (7 of 56 [12.5%]) were more apt to decline than white parents (12 of 32 [3.7%]; P < .01). Conclusions: AYAs identified time commitment and having too much to think about as significant impediments to research participation. Addressing these barriers by minimizing time requirements and further supporting decision-making may improve informed consent and impact on enrollment in trials. (shrink)
OBJECTIVES: To compare 2005 and 1995 ethics guidelines from journal editors to authors regarding requirements for institutional review board (IRB) approval and conflict-of-interest (COI) disclosure. DESIGN: A descriptive study of the ethics guidelines published in 103 English-language biomedical journals listed in the Abridged Index Medicus in 1995 and 2005. Each journal was reviewed by the principal author and one of four independent reviewers. RESULTS: During the period, the proportion of journals requiring IRB approval increased from 42% (95% CI 32.2% to (...) 51.2%, p<0.001) to 76% (95% CI 66.4% to 83.1%, p<0.001). In 2005, an additional 9% referred to the Declaration of Helsinki or the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors' Uniform requirements for ethical guidelines; 15% (95% CI 8.5% to 22.5%, p<0.01) provided ambiguous or no requirements. The proportion of journals requiring COI disclosure increased from 75% (95% CI 66.6% to 83.3%, p<0.05) to 94% (95% CI 89.4% to 98.6%, p<0.05); 41% had comprehensive requirements, while some addressed only funding source (6%), were vague (10%) or both (14%). Criteria for authorship rose from 40% (95% CI 30.5% to 49.5%, p<0.05) to 72% (95% CI 63.3% to 80.7%, p<0.05). Journals with higher impact factors were more likely to require IRB approval (p<0.01). Journals in anaesthesia and radiology all required IRB approval; requirements in other disciplines varied. CONCLUSIONS: Instructions to authors regarding ethical standards have improved. Some remain incomplete, especially regarding the scope of disclosure of COI. The ethical guidelines presented to authors need further clarification and standardisation. (shrink)
Wittgenstein, in his famous critique of philosophy, noted that the influence of an idea can be such that it alters the way that we see the world. “It is like a pair of glasses on our nose through which we see whatever we look at,” he said. “It never occurs to us to take them off.” This view of the power of an idea suggests that the interpretation of an event, and what response this event calls for, can depend (...) upon the view one has of the world. A person who is naive about medical facts may, for example, interpret chest pain upon exertion as a sign that he is “overdoing it”; were he more medically knowledgeable, the same symptom might be interpreted as a possible indicator of coronary artery disease. The naive interpretation calls for rest; the informed interpretation calls for medical attention as well. (shrink)
Emergency medicine research requires the enrollment of subjects with varying decision-making capacities, including capable adults, adults incapacitated by illness or injury, and children. These different categories of subjects are protected by multiple federal regulations. These include the federal Common Rule, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) regulations for pediatric research, and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Final Rule for the Exception from the Requirements of Informed Consent in Emergency Situations. Investigators should be familiar with the relevant federal (...) research regulations to optimally protect vulnerable research subjects, and to facilitate the institutional review board (IRB) review process. IRB members face particular challenges in reviewing emergency research. No regulations exist for research enrolling incapacitated subjects using proxy consent. The wording of the Final Rule may not optimally protect vulnerable subjects. It is also difficult to apply conflicting regulations to a single study that enrolls subjects with differing decision-making capacities. This article is intended as a guide for emergency researchers and IRB members who review emergency research. It reviews the elements of Federal Regulations that apply to consent, subject selection, privacy protection, and the analysis of risks and benefits in all emergency research. It explores the challenges for IRB review listed above, and offers potential solutions to these problems. (shrink)
Surgical devices are often marketed before there is good evidence of their safety and effectiveness. Our paper discusses the ethical issues associated with the early marketing and use of new surgical devices from the perspectives of the six groups most concerned. Health Canada, which is responsible for licensing new surgical devices, should amend their requirements to include rigorous clinical trials that provide data on effectiveness and safety for each new product before it is marketed. Industry should comply with all Health (...) Canada requirements to obtain licenses for new products. Until Health Canada requires effectiveness and safety data, industry should cooperate with physicians in appropriate studies before releasing new products and should make balanced presentations of all the available evidence. Surgeons should, before using a new surgical device, assess the evidence on its effectiveness and safety and ensure they are properly trained and competent in using the device. Surgeons should provide their patients with an evaluation of the available evidence and inform them about possible complications and the surgeon's level of experience with the new device. Patients, who should be given an honest evaluation of the available evidence, possible complications, and the surgeon's experience, should be encouraged to evaluate the evidence and information to their own satisfaction to ensure that fully informed consent is given. Health institutions, responsible for regulating practice within their walls, should review new devices for safety, effectiveness, and economic impacts, before allowing their use. They should also limit the use of new surgical devices to surgeons trained and competent in the new technology. Professional societies should provide guidance on the early adoption of new surgical devices and technologies. We urge all those involved in the development, licensing, and use of new surgical devices to aim for higher ethical standards to protect the health and safety of patients requiring surgery. The lowest acceptable ethical standard would require device manufacturers to provide surgeons with accurate and timely information on the efficacy and safety of their products, allowing surgeons and patients to evaluate the evidence (and the significance of information not yet available) before surgery. (shrink)
PURPOSE: The offer to return research results to participants is increasingly recognized as an ethical obligation, although few researchers routinely return results. We examined the needs and attitudes of parents of children with cancer and of adolescents with cancer to the return of research results. METHODS: Seven experts in research ethics scored content validity on parent and adolescent questionnaires previously developed through focus group and phone interviews. The questionnaires were revised and provided to 30 parents and 10 adolescents in a (...) tertiary care oncology setting. RESULTS: The content validity index for individual questions and the overall questionnaires scored as 0.86 for both questionnaires. All 30 parents and 10 adolescents who agreed to participate returned questionnaires. The majority (>95%) indicated that they had a strong or very strong right to receive results. Letter or e-mail was a satisfactory means to return results described as good or neutral (66% parents, 100% adolescents) but more participants wished face-to-face disclosure of results with negative implications (50% parents, 60% adolescents). Very few wanted results disseminated through a Web site. The majority acknowledged the need for peer-review before disclosure (60% of adolescents and parents) but did not want "to be the last to know." CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that pediatric oncology patients and parents of children with cancer strongly feel that they have a right to research results, and that they wish to receive these in a timely manner. (shrink)
Franklin G. Miller and colleagues have stimulated renewed interest in research ethics through their work criticizing clinical equipoise. Over three years and some twenty articles, they have also worked to articulate a positive alternative view on norms governing the conduct of clinical research. Shared presuppositions underlie the positive and critical dimensions of Miller and colleagues' work. However, recognizing that constructive contributions to the field ought to enjoy priority, we presently scrutinize the constructive dimension of their work. We argue that it (...) is wanting in several respects. (shrink)
: The authors respond to objections Fred Gifford has raised against their paper "Rehabilitating Equipoise." They situate this exchange in the wider context of recent debate over equipoise, highlighting substantial points of agreement between themselves and Gifford. The authors offer a brief restatement of "Rehabilitating Equipoise" in which they amplify some of its core arguments. They then assess Gifford's objections. Finding each to be unfounded, they argue that there is no justification for "pulling the plug" on clinical equipoise.
The practice of surgical trainees operating in developing countries is gaining interest in the medical community. Although there has been little analysis about the ethical impact of these electives, there has been some concerns raised over the possible exploitation of trainees and their patients. An ethical review of this practice shows that care needs to be taken to prevent harm. Inexperienced surgeons learning surgical skills in developing countries engender greater risk of violating basic ethical principles. Advanced surgical trainees who have (...) already achieved surgical competence are best qualified to satisfy these ethical issues. All training programs need to develop a structured ethical review for international electives to protect their trainees and their patients from harm. (shrink)
Earlier in the pages of this journal (p 481), Wendler and Miller offered the "net risks test" as an alternative approach to the ethical analysis of benefits and harms in research. They have been vocal critics of the dominant view of benefit-harm analysis in research ethics, which encompasses core concepts of duty of care, clinical equipoise and component analysis. They had been challenged to come up with a viable alternative to component analysis which meets five criteria. The alternative must (1) (...) protect research subjects; (2) allow clinical research to proceed; (3) explain how physicians may offer trial enrolment to their patients; (4) address the challenges posed by research containing a mixture of interventions and (5) define ethical standards according to which the risks and potential benefits of research may be consistently evaluated. This response argues that the net risks test meets none of these criteria and concludes that it is not a viable alternative to component analysis. (shrink)
Heated debate surrounds the question whether the relationship between physician-researcher and patient-subject is governed by a duty of care. Miller and Weijer argue that fiduciary law provides a strong legal foundation for this duty, and for articulating the terms of the relationship between physician-researcher and patient-subject.
When may a physician enroll a patient in clinical research? An adequate answer to this question requires clarification of trust-based obligations of the state and the physician-researcher respectively to the patient-subject. The state relies on the voluntarism of patient-subjects to advance the public interest in science. Accordingly, it is obligated to protect the agent-neutral interests of patient-subjects through promulgating standards that secure these interests. Component analysis is the only comprehensive and systematic specification of regulatory standards for benefit-harm evaluation by research (...) ethics committees (RECs). Clinical equipoise, a standard in component analysis, ensures the treatment arms of a randomised control trial are consistent with competent medical care. It thus serves to protect agent-neutral welfare interests of the patient-subject. But REC review occurs prior to enrolment, highlighting the independent responsibility of the physician-researcher to protect the agent-relative welfare interests of the patient-subject. In a novel interpretation of the duty of care, we argue for a “clinical judgment principle” which requires the physician-researcher to exercise judgment in the interests of the patient-subject taking into account evidence on treatments and the patient-subject‘s circumstances. (shrink)
Issues: We present key aspects of our paper, commissioned by UNAIDS in 2005, entitled, “Revisiting the ethics of HIV prevention research in developing countries.” In 2004 and 2005 we witnessed the closure or suspension of three international clinical trials testing tenofovir in the prevention of HIV infection in high risk groups due to the failure to provide free treatment to those who seroconvert during the conduct of the study. We examine critically moral claims for the provision of treatment to those (...) who seroconvert in HIV prevention trials and ask whether it is a matter of moral obligation or moral negotiation?Description: Using the tools of philosophical and regulatory analysis we examine the moral foundations of research ethics, international regulation, and the contemporary literature in search of valid arguments in support of a moral obligation to treat. Arguments supporting the obligation to provide such treatment are found in a wide variety of documents. These claims are variously rooted in the demand to compensate for research-related injury, maximization of research benefit, justice as reciprocity, and justice as equality.Lessons learned: Our analysis reveals that there is as of yet no robust moral argument supporting a moral obligation to provide treatment to participants in HIV prevention trials who seroconvert. We argue that moral negotiation offers distinct advantages over moral obligation. Moral negotiation finds support in the principle of respect for communities that holds researchers responsible to respect communal values, protect and empower social institutions and abide by the decisions of accepted communal authorities.Recommendations: Moral negotiation, rather than moral obligation, reduces the chance of polarization of positions by inviting trial participants, sponsors, researchers and all other involved parties to the table for discussion. Moral negotiation favors middle ground solutions that fit the specific health needs and priorities of the community in question. (shrink)
Must treatment be provided to subjects who acquire HIV during the course of a prevention study? An analysis of ethical foundation, regulation, and recent argumentation provides no basis for the obligation. We outline an alternative approach to the problem based on moral negotiation.
BACKGROUND: Researchers have a moral responsibility to offer to return research results to participants, but the needs and attitudes of parents and adolescents with cancer in paediatric oncology regarding the issue are relatively unknown.OBJECTIVES: To explore the needs of potential research participants or their guardians with respect to the offer of a return of research results. METHODS: A questionnaire was used in a focus group and in telephone interviews with eight adolescents and 12 parents of children with cancer. The participants (...) were asked to respond to the questions and to comment on the inclusiveness of the questionnaire.RESULTS: The majority of participants (18 of 20) wished to receive research results. Two somewhat unexpected findings are described. First, all participants in the present study felt that it was the primary responsibility of the participant to retain contact with the researchers for the purpose of obtaining research results. Second, few participants (n=2) indicated that the Internet would be a satisfactory way of transmitting these results. One-half of the participants wished to have face-to-face communication of results.CONCLUSIONS: These results provide preliminary guidance for the return of research results to participants and validate the use of the questionnaire in a larger study of this issue. (shrink)
The notions of individual and collective ethics were first explicitly defined in the biostatistical literature in 1971 to motivate a mathematical solution to a posed ethical dilemma. This paper reviews key antecedents to these concepts and traces explicit references to them over time, primarily in the biostatistical literature. Following a historical exposition of these texts, a critical thematic analysis shows the following: the normative force of these concepts has not been adequately argued. Individual and collective ethics do not solve the (...) problem of how to use accumulating data to inform ethical action. The notions of the "individual" and the "collective" are too vague to prompt clear moral imperatives, especially in difficult cases. These concepts have not been successfully linked to a standard ethical framework. Finally, the paper concludes with the observation that a systematic, comprehensive ethical framework must be identified to fulfill the intuitions behind individual and collective ethics. (shrink)
OBJECTIVE: To apply component analysis, a structured approach to the ethical analysis of risks and potential benefits in research, to published emergency research using a waiver of/exception from informed consent. The hypothesis was that component analysis could be used with a high degree of interrater reliability, and that the vast majority of emergency research would comply with a minimal-risk threshold. METHODS: A Medline search and manual search were done to identify studies using a waiver of/exception from informed consent published between (...) July 1996 and December 2000. A review panel of physicians and bioethicists independently classified nontherapeutic procedures in each study as minimal risk, probably minimal risk, or probably more than minimal risk. RESULTS: Seventy studies using a waiver of/exception from informed consent were identified. A majority of reviewers classified nontherapeutic procedures in 62 studies (88.6%) as minimal risk. Reviewers classified nontherapeutic procedures in six studies (8.6%) as minimal risk or probably minimal risk. In two studies (2.9%), nontherapeutic procedures were classified as probably more than minimal risk. The intraclass correlation coefficient was 0.89 (95% CI = 0.85 to 0.93), indicating very high interrater reliability. CONCLUSIONS: Component analysis can be used with high reliability to review emergency research and may improve the consistency of institutional review board review of emergency research. The vast majority of published emergency research performed using a waiver of/exception from consent complies with a properly-applied minimal-risk threshold. A minimal-risk threshold for nontherapeutic procedures protects subjects better than current U.S. regulations while permitting important emergency research to continue. (shrink)
Research in the intensive care unit (ICU) is commonly thought to pose 'serious risk' to study participants. This perception may be at the root of a variety of impediments to the conduct of clinical trials in the ICU setting. Component analysis offers a promising approach to the ethical analysis of ICU research. Because clinical trials commonly involve a mixture of study interventions, therapeutic and nontherapeutic procedures must be analyzed separately. Therapeutic procedures must meet the requirement of clinical equipoise. Risks associated (...) with nontherapeutic procedures must be minimized consistent with sound scientific design, and be deemed reasonable in relation to the knowledge to be gained. When research involves a vulnerable population, such as adults incapable of providing informed consent, nontherapeutic risks are limited to a minor increase over minimal risk. Understood in this way, the incremental risk posed by participation in ICU research may be minimal. This realization has important implications for review by institutional review boards of such research and for the informed consent process. (shrink)
The existing EELS literature has usefully identified the scope of ethical issues posed by pharmacogenetic and pharmacogenomic research. The time has come for in-depth examination of particular ethical issues. The involvement of racial and ethnic communities in pharmacogenetic and pharmacogenomic research is contentious precisely because it touches upon the science and politics of studying racial and ethnic difference. To date, the ethics literature has not seriously taken account of the fact that such research impinges upon the interests of communities, and (...) that taking such interests seriously requires that we both protect and empower communities in research. We propose a framework that rests upon the recognition that communities are heterogeneous human associations and differing policies are appropriate for differing communities. Community consent and consultation and community consultation alone are neither appropriate nor required for all pharmacogenetic and pharmacogenomic research. Rather, application of these policy protections must take into account particulars of both planned research and the communities involved. (shrink)
The question "When are research risks reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits?" is at the heart of disputes in the ethics of clinical research. Institutional review boards are often criticized for inconsistent decision-making, a problem that is compounded by a number of contemporary controversies, including the ethics of research involving placebo controls, developing countries, incapable adults and emergency rooms. If this pressing ethical question is to be addressed in a principled way, then a systematic approach to the ethics of risk (...) in research is required. Component analysis provides such a systematic approach. (shrink)
Substantial progress has been made in developing treatments that reduce the risk of fractures in osteoporosis. However, available treatments are only partially effective, they are not widely used, and there is need to search for more effective means of fracture prevention. Currently known effective means of reducing fractures were found using randomized placebo-controlled trials. The use of placebo controls in clinical trials has been a subject of significant controversy in recent years. The Declaration of Helsinki revision of October 2000 caused (...) great concern among clinical investigators about the future use of placebo controls if known effective therapeutic agents are available. A working group of ethicists, clinical trial design experts, and clinical investigators examined the current state of knowledge of osteoporosis treatment and trials. They concluded that if placebo controls put subjects at substantial risk of serious outcomes, they are not ethically permissible. Placebo controls in osteoporosis trials with fracture as the measured outcome are permissible only under narrowly defined conditions. Placebo controls may be used if competent, well-informed patients refuse approved therapies for sound reasons, there is a reasonable basis for substantial disagreement or lack of consensus among professionals about whether approved treatments are better than placebos, or subjects are refractory to known effective agents. Active control trials are permissible and desirable if they can be designed and conducted in ways that overcome the interpretive difficulties often associated with such trials. (shrink)
PURPOSE: The offer to return a summary of results to participants after the conclusion of clinical research has many potential benefits. The authors determined current practice and attitudes and needs of researchers in establishing programs to return results to research participants. METHODS: An Internet survey of all 236 principal investigators (PIs) of the Children's Oncology Group in May 2002 recorded PI and institutional demographics, current practice, and perceived barriers to and needs of PIs for the creation of research results programs. (...) RESULTS: One hundred fifty (63.8%) PIs responded. Few institutions (n = 5) had established, comprehensive programs to offer the return of results. PIs indicated that major impediments to the implementation of such programs are the preparation of lay summaries, time constraints, the task of contacting participants, and potential distress for the participants. PIs identified the following facilitators to the establishment of a program in their own institution: lay summaries, web site, preparation of an oncologist's summary, and financial credits. There was no clear consensus as to when the results should be shared: 30% indicated after the study was closed and 24% indicated at the time of publication of results. A substantial proportion of respondents opposed or strongly opposed the implementation of a universal offering of results to research participants. CONCLUSIONS: Few Children's Oncology Group institutions have programs that offer the return of results to research participants. Significant barriers and facilitators to this process have been identified. (shrink)
BACKGROUND: The offer of return of research results to study participants has many potential benefits. The current study examined the offer of return of research results by analyzing consent forms from 2 acute lymphoblastic leukemia studies of the 235 institutional members of the Children's Oncology Group. METHODS: Institutional review board (IRB)-approved consent forms from 2 standard-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia studies (Children's Cancer Group [CCG] 1991 and Pediatric Oncology Group [POG] 9407) were analyzed independently by 2 reviewers. RESULTS: The authors received (...) replies from 202 of the 235 institutions that were contacted (85%). One hundred eighty-one institutions had CCG 1991 (n = 96) or POG 9905 (n = 85) protocols that were approved by an IRB. Most institutions provided contact information for the principal investigator (n = 175; 97%) and a member of the institution's research services office (n = 154; 85%). Only 5 (2.8%) institutions provided an indication of a participant's right to receive a summary of research results; most of these institutions provided details on how (n = 5) or when (n = 5) this was to occur. All of these institutions (n = 162; 89.5%) provided a specific statement offering new information that might affect a participant's decision to continue to participate in a study. Only 2 institutional consent forms offered participants the option to receive research results, and only 10 (5.5%) consent forms contained an unambiguous, specific statement offering to provide new information after the study was closed. CONCLUSIONS: Few institutional review board-approved consent forms explicitly indicate the right of research recipients to receive a summary of the results of the research in which they have participated. (shrink)
: When may a physician legitimately offer enrollment in a randomized clinical trial (RCT) to her patient? Two answers to this question have had a profound impact on the research ethics literature. Equipoise, as originated by Charles Fried, which we term Fried's equipoise (FE), stipulates that a physician may offer trial enrollment to her patient only when the physician is genuinely uncertain as to the preferred treatment. Clinical equipoise (CE), originated by Benjamin Freedman, requires that there exist a state of (...) honest, professional disagreement in the community of expert practitioners as to the preferred treatment. FE and CE are widely understood as competing concepts. We argue that FE and CE offer separable and, in themselves, incomplete justifications for the conduct of clinical trials. FE articulates conditions under which the fiduciary duties of physician to patient may be upheld in the conduct of research. CE sets out a standard for the social approval of research by institutional review boards. Viewed in this way, FE and CE are not necessarily competing notions, but rather address complementary moral concerns. (shrink)
: In response to the preceding commentary by Jerry Menikoff in this issue of the Journal , the authors argue that Fried's central concern is not that randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are conducted without consent, but rather that various aspects of the design and conduct of RCTs are in tension with physicians' duties of personal care to their patients. Although Fried does argue that the existence of equipoise cannot justify failure to obtain consent from research subjects, informed consent by itself (...) does not supplant ill subjects' rights to personalized judgment and care embodied in Fried's equipoise. (shrink)
I am an M.D/Ph.D. student and work as a research assistant for the director of a division of the school of medicine who is an M.D. He assigned me to research a certain topic and gave me no guidelines or guidance as to how to do it. Nevertheless, I did the research and wrote it up. My supervisor liked the report and said that he thought it was so good that “I would like to offer you the opportunity to publish (...) it and list you as the primary author.” Some bells went off when he so grandly offered to let me author the report for which I had done 100% of research and writing. I consulted some other people in the field and they said that, as long as I was the primary author, it was legitimate for him to list himself as secondary author if he did some editing later. After editing the abstract only, he e-mailed his revisions to me and in a note at the bottom he asked me what I thought of his revised author order. His name was first, mine second, and the name of his girlfriend (who had no part in this research or its revision) was third. I was shocked by what seemed to be a case of unethical author attribution and confronted him asking why he changed the order when we had agreed that I was primary author. He said that he had put in several hours of work. (shrink)
The practice of paying research subjects for participating inclinical trials has yet to receive an adequate moral analysis.Dickert and Grady argue for a wage payment model in whichresearch subjects are paid an hourly wage based on that ofunskilled laborers. If we accept this approach, what follows?Norms for just working conditions emerge from workplacelegislation and political theory. All workers, includingpaid research subjects under Dickert and Grady''s analysis,have a right to at least minimum wage, a standard work week,extra pay for overtime hours, (...) a safe workplace, no faultcompensation for work-related injury, and union organization.If we accept that paid research subjects are wage earners likeany other, then the implications for changes to current practiceare substantial. (shrink)
Progress in emergency and critical care requires that clinical research be performed on patients who are incapable of granting consent for research participation. Analyses of the ethics of such research have left some questions incompletely answered. Why should we be permitted to expose vulnerable patients to research risks without their consent? In particular, how do we justify research interventions that have no potential benefit for participants (nontherapeutic interventions)? This article presents a moral justification for nontherapeutic interventions in emergency research. By (...) relying on a framework for assessing research risks, and by drawing on the example of pediatric research, this justification is founded in how institutional review boards, and society in general, analyze risk. Our justification for emergency research also suggests additional protections for emergency research participants, including a stringent threshold for research risk, that still permit important research to proceed. (shrink)
As scientists target communities for research into the etiology, especially the genetic determinants of common diseases, there have been calls for the protection of communities. This paper identifies the distinct characteristics of aboriginal communities and their implications for research in these communities. It also contends that the framework in the Belmont Report is inadequate in this context and suggests a fourth principle of respect for communities. To explore how such a principle might be specified and operationalized, it reviews existing guidelines (...) for protecting aboriginal communities and points out problems with these guidelines and areas for further work. (shrink)
OBJECTIVE: To describe the issues faced, and how they were addressed, by the University of Toronto Critical Care Medicine Program/Joint Centre for Bioethics Task Force on Appropriate Use of Life-Sustaining Treatment. The clinical problem addressed by the Task Force was dealing with requests by patients or substitute decision makers for life-sustaining treatment that their healthcare providers believe is inappropriate. DESIGN: Case study. SETTING: The University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics/Critical Care Medicine Program Task Force on Appropriate Use of Life-Sustaining (...) Treatment. PARTICIPANTS: The 24-member Task Force included physician and nursing leaders from five critical care units, bioethicists, a legal scholar, a health administration expert, a social worker, and a hospital public relations professional. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Our specific lessons learned include a) a policy focus on process; b) use of a negotiation and mediation model, rather than a hospital ethics committee model, for this process; and c) the policy development process is itself a negotiation, so we recommend equal involvement of interested groups including patients, families, and the public. CONCLUSIONS: This article describes the key issues faced by the Task Force while developing its policy. It will provide a useful starting point for other groups developing policy on appropriate use of life-sustaining treatment. (shrink)
In contrast to attempts that have been made to measure the clarity of reporting of the methods of clinical trials in journal articles, we report here an attempt to measure the accuracy of methods reporting. We focus in this article on eligibility criteria as a test case for the reporting of clinical trial methods. We examined the reporting of eligibility criteria in the protocol, methods paper (if applicable), journal article, and Clinical Alert for articles appearing in print between January 1988 (...) and September 1994 for which a Clinical Alert had been issued. Eligibility criteria were further classified into five categories in order to examine the content of information loss, if any. On average, 82% of protocol eligibility criteria were reported in methods papers. Journal articles and Clinical Alerts fared somewhat worse: 63% of criteria were reported in journal articles, 19% in Clinical Alerts. In all three categories of medical communication, the reporting of criteria that defined the study disease tended to be complete; reporting of criteria relating to trial precision, patient safety, legal and ethical concerns, and administrative considerations, was not complete. We found that criteria for clinical trial eligibility are frequently under-reported in medical communications. Moreover, some of the criteria omitted are of considerable clinical importance. We suggest that in the design phase of clinical trials, proposed eligibility criteria be scrutinized closely. Those criteria that survive this scrutiny and that have clinical import must be reported upon fully and accurately when communicating trial results. (shrink)