Journal: BMC medical ethics
Since 2010 the People’s Republic of China has been engaged in an effort to reform its system of organ transplantation by developing a voluntary organ donation and allocation infrastructure. This has required a shift in the procurement of organs sourced from China’s prison and security apparatus to hospital-based voluntary donors declared dead by neurological and/or circulatory criteria. Chinese officials announced that from January 1, 2015, hospital-based donors would be the sole source of organs. This paper examines the availability, transparency, integrity, and consistency of China’s official transplant data.
BACKGROUND: Due to the important role of depression in major illnesses, screening measures for depression are commonly used in medical research. The protocol for managing participants with positive screens is unclear and raises ethical concerns. The aim of this article is to identify and critically discuss the ethical issues that arise when a positive screen for depression is detected, and offer some guidance on managing these issues. DISCUSSION: Deciding on whether to report positive screens to healthcare practitioners is both an ethical and a pragmatic dilemma. Evidence suggests that reporting positive depression screens should only be considered in the context of collaborative care. Possible adverse effects, such as the impact of false-positive results, potentially inappropriate labelling, and potentially inappropriate treatment also need to be considered. If possible, the psychometric properties of the selected screening measure should be determined in the target population, and a threshold for depression that minimises the rate of false-positive results should be chosen. It should be clearly communicated to practitioners that screening scores are not diagnostic for depression, and they should be informed about the diagnostic accuracy of the measure. Research participants need to be made aware of the consequences of the detection of high scores on screening measures, and to be fully informed about the implications of the research protocol. SUMMARY: Further research is needed and the experiences of researchers, participants, and practitioners need to be collated before the value of reporting positive screens for depression can be ascertained. In developing research protocols, the ethical challenges highlighted should be considered. Participants must be agreeable to the agreed protocol and efforts should be made to minimise potentially adverse effects.
Implicit biases involve associations outside conscious awareness that lead to a negative evaluation of a person on the basis of irrelevant characteristics such as race or gender. This review examines the evidence that healthcare professionals display implicit biases towards patients.
Evidence-based medicine (EBM) has always required integration of patient values with ‘best’ clinical evidence. It is widely recognized that scientific practices and discoveries, including those of EBM, are value-laden. But to date, the science of EBM has focused primarily on methods for reducing bias in the evidence, while the role of values in the different aspects of the EBM process has been almost completely ignored.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) have been legally possible in the Netherlands since 2001, provided that statutory due care criteria are met, including: (a) voluntary and well-considered request; (b) unbearable suffering without prospect of improvement; © informing the patient; (d) lack of a reasonable alternative; (e) independent second physician’s opinion. ‘Unbearable suffering’ must have a medical basis, either somatic or psychiatric, but there is no requirement of limited life expectancy. All EAS cases must be reported and are scrutinised by regional review committees (RTE). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether any particular difficulties arise when the EAS due care criteria are applied to patients with an intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder.
The increasing push to commercialize university research has emerged as a significant science policy challenge. While the socio-economic benefits of increased and rapid research commercialization are often emphasized in policy statements and discussions, there is less mention or discussion of potential risks. In this paper, we highlight such potential risks and call for a more balanced assessment of the commercialization ethos and trends.
Implementation science research, especially when using participatory and co-design approaches, raises unique challenges for research ethics committees. Such challenges may be poorly addressed by approval and governance mechanisms that were developed for more traditional research approaches such as randomised controlled trials.
BACKGROUND: In 2009, Dr. Paolo Zamboni proposed chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) as a possible cause of multiple sclerosis (MS). Although his theory and the associated treatment (“liberation therapy”) received little more than passing interest in the international scientific and medical communities, his ideas became the source of tremendous public and political tension in Canada. The story moved rapidly from mainstream media to social networking sites. CCSVI and liberation therapy swiftly garnered support among patients and triggered remarkable and relentless advocacy efforts. Policy makers have responded in a variety of ways to the public’s call for action. DISCUSSION: We present three different perspectives on this evolving story, that of a health journalist who played a key role in the media coverage of this issue, that of a health law and policy scholar who has closely observed the unfolding public policy developments across the country, and that of a medical ethicist who sits on an expert panel convened by the MS Society of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to assess the evidence as it emerges. SUMMARY: This story raises important questions about resource allocation and priority setting in scientific research and science policy. The growing power of social media represents a new level of citizen engagement and advocacy, and emphasizes the importance of open debate about the basis on which such policy choices are made. It also highlights the different ways evidence may be understood, valued and utilized by various stakeholders and further emphasizes calls to improve science communication so as to support balanced and informed decision-making.
The language of “participant-driven research,” “crowdsourcing” and “citizen science” is increasingly being used to encourage the public to become involved in research ventures as both subjects and scientists. Originally, these labels were invoked by volunteer research efforts propelled by amateurs outside of traditional research institutions and aimed at appealing to those looking for more “democratic,” “patient-centric,” or “lay” alternatives to the professional science establishment. As mainstream translational biomedical research requires increasingly larger participant pools, however, corporate, academic and governmental research programs are embracing this populist rhetoric to encourage wider public participation.
BACKGROUND: The knowledge of scientific dishonesty is scarce and heterogeneous. Therefore this study investigates the experiences with and the attitudes towards various forms of scientific dishonesty among the PhD-students at the medical faculties of all Norwegian universities. METHOD: Anonymous questionnaire distributed to all post graduate students attending introductory PhD-courses at all medical faculties in Norway in 2010/2011. Descriptive statistics. RESULTS: 189 of 262 questionnaires were returned (72.1%). 65% of the respondents had not, during the last year, heard or read about researchers who committed scientific dishonesty. One respondent had experienced pressure to fabricate and to falsify data, and one had experienced pressure to plagiarize data. On average 60% of the respondents were uncertain whether their department had a written policy concerning scientific conduct. About 11% of the respondents had experienced unethical pressure concerning the order of authors during the last 12 months. 10% did not find it inappropriate to report experimental data without having conducted the experiment and 38% did not find it inappropriate to try a variety of different methods of analysis to find a statistically significant result. 13% agreed that it is acceptable to selectively omit contradictory results to expedite publication and 10% found it acceptable to falsify or fabricate data to expedite publication, if they were confident of their findings. 79% agreed that they would be willing to report misconduct to a responsible official. CONCLUSION: Although there is less scientific dishonesty reported in Norway than in other countries, dishonesty is not unknown to doctoral students. Some forms of scientific misconduct are considered to be acceptable by a significant minority. There was little awareness of relevant policies for scientific conduct, but a high level of willingness to report misconduct.