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. 🙂


The End’s Justify the Means? A few thoughts on deception in research.

After reading an article by the WSJ that came across my LinkedIn newsfeed (http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-role-of-deception-in-scientific-research-1409009297#livefyre-comment) I started thinking about deception in research.

Can deception ever be ethically justified in research? Isn’t that showing the end’s justify the means? I was always taught, not through formal study of ethics, that the end’s never justify the means. Is that old adage wrong when it comes to research ethics?

I don’t think so.

Perhaps the negative act of deception always trumps the gains. Deception does after all leave a bad impression on those on the receiving end. Doesn’t it erode trust in scientists as benevolent researchers and science in general?

We currently allow deception when it is low risk research and if there are no other ways to conduct the research. To that I say perhaps the research itself is low risk, but the risk of ruining trust in research after deception has occurred is actually high. Second, perhaps if the research cannot be done by any other means then it ought not be done at all.

Seems to me that by allowing deception we are going about research ethics willy-nilly. Deception is wrong outside of research, why allow it within research?

Getting Started

Hi there,

For now, I’m basically writing this post to just get started as I know right now I have no followers. I will be taking steps in the future to change that as I hope this blog can carve out its place in the online fora of ethics related sites and blogs.

My interest is largely in the areas I studied while in University, Bioethics, Social, and Political. I have an interest in Business ethics as well although have not studied it formally.

This Blog will largely feature content on subjects found in areas such as healthcare ethics, corruption, social justice, and corporate social responsibility. I am not going to limit myself at the moment but if I find a certain area that I enjoy writing about as I continue it may drift into a more specialized category of ethics.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Hope you enjoyed reading my first blog post on Ethics Nut.