A thought on therapeutic misconception

At work recently I’ve been going through cases of ethical misconduct for a presentation I will be delivering in the coming months and it has raised in my mind questions of therapeutic misconception.

Clearly ethical regulations and theory purport that research is for the benefit of knowledge and not the health of the participant. I.e. it’s not meant as a therapy. But is that true?

Many areas of medicine have no known treatments and people are regularly being signed up for clinical trials in the distant hope that it will benefit their condition.

For me, and perhaps some readers, this definitely raises the question of whether we are confusing participants and feeding into misconception. No doubt only the greatest intentions are meant but perhaps a review of the practice of signing up participants for the hope that it will treat them needs to be re-examined.

How does the concept of therapeutic misconception stand, or does it need to, when e.g. a cancer patient has gone through several rounds of chemo and there is really nothing left except experiment.

My worry, and how this relates to ethical misconduct is that in the past vulnerable groups have been used to push science ahead at the cost the wellbeing of participants.

I would argue that for patients who have no known standard of care and are left with either no care of experimental research that they be classified as a vulnerable population susceptible to undue influence to sign up for a study, and so be protected in research under the classification as a vulnerable population. Same as for example economically disadvantage who turn to research studies for money.

Just some thoughts. I haven’t fully developed the argument clearly but hey, this is my blog and I’ll do what I want. 🙂


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