Reimagining research ethics to include environmental sustainability: a principled approach, including a case study of data-driven health research

Journal of Medical Ethics 49 (6):428-433 (2023)
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Abstract

In this paper we argue the need to reimagine research ethics frameworks to include notions of environmental sustainability. While there have long been calls for healthcareethics frameworks and decision-making to include aspects of sustainability, less attention has focused on howresearchethics frameworks could address this. To do this, we first describe the traditional approach to research ethics, which often relies on individualised notions of risk. We argue that we need to broaden this notion of individual risk to consider issues associated with environmental sustainability. This is because research is associated with carbon emissions and other environmental impacts, both of which cause climate change health hazards. We introduce how bioethics frameworks have considered notions of environmental sustainability and draw on these to help develop a framework suitable for researchers. We provide a case study of data-driven health research to apply our framework.

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