Reporting and referring research participants: Ethical challenges for investigators studying children and youth

Ethics and Behavior 4 (2):87 – 95 (1994)
Researchers studying at-risk and socially disenfranchised child and adolescent populations are facing ethical dilemmas not previously encountered in the laboratory or the clinic. One such set of ethical challenges involves whether to: (a) share with guardians research derived information regarding participant risk, (b) provide participants with service referrals, or (c) report to local authorities problems uncovered during the course of investigation. The articles assembled for this special section address the complex issues of deciding if, when, and how to report or provide referrals for research participants who are minors (referred to hereafter as minor research participants). This paper focuses on two factors underlying these decisions: the validity of risk estimates and meta-ethical positions on scientific responsibility. It is suggested that, before sharing information about minor research participants investigators should do the following: critically examine the diagnostic validity of developmental measures, include the scope and limitations of information sharing in informed consent procedures, and become familiar with state reporting laws. I discuss the impact of the traditionally accepted act utilitarian meta-ethical position on the investigator-participant relationship, and I recommend consideration of alternative positions as a step toward developing a research ethic of scientific responsibility and care.
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DOI 10.1207/s15327019eb0402_2
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Immanuel Kant (2007). Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell.

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