Therapeutic appropriation: a new concept in the ethics of clinical research

Journal of Medical Ethics 42 (12):805-808 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Ethical concerns about therapeutic misconception have been raised since the early 1980s. This concept was originally described as research participants' assumptions that decisions relating to research interventions are made on the basis of their individual therapeutic needs. The term has since been used to refer to a range of ‘misunderstandings’ that research participants may have. In this paper, we describe a new concept—therapeutic appropriation. Therapeutic appropriation occurs when patients, or clinicians, actively reframe research participation as an opportunity to enhance patients' clinical care, while simultaneously acknowledging the generalised research aims. To illustrate the concept of therapeutic appropriation, we draw on data from an interview study which we conducted to investigate the experiences of patients and general practitioners involved in clinical trials in primary care. We argue that therapeutic appropriation has two key elements: comprehension that the research project is not necessarily aiming to benefit participants and the deliberate use of incidental features of the research for personal therapeutic benefit of various kinds. We conclude that therapeutic appropriation is a useful concept that refines understanding of potential ethical problems in clinical research, and points to strategies to address them.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,642

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Evaluating the therapeutic misconception.Franklin G. Miller & Steven Joffe - 2006 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 16 (4):353-366.
Research Ethics and Misguided Moral Intuition.Franklin G. Miller - 2004 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 32 (1):111-116.
Two concepts of therapeutic optimism.L. A. Jansen - 2011 - Journal of Medical Ethics 37 (9):563-566.
Is "therapeutic research" a misnomer?Peter Lucas - 2010 - In Matti Häyry (ed.), Arguments and analysis in bioethics. Amsterdam: Rodopi. pp. 229--239.


Added to PP

8 (#517,646)

6 months
17 (#859,272)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Dominique E. Martin
Deakin University