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Monash Bioeth Rev. 2003 Jan;22(1):52-62.

Secret ethics business?

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Centre for the Study of Health and Society, University of Melbourne, Australia.


In this paper, I question the common assumption that the workings of Human Research Ethics Committees should be treated as confidential. This is actually quite a complex issue, since there are many stages in the ethics approval process, and a number of different stakeholders who might wish to claim access, or restrict access, to different sorts of information. Here I consider just one aspect--whether ethics committee members should be free to reveal in public the details of what occurs in their meetings. My approach is two-fold: first a negative argument that confidentiality does not apply to ethics committee deliberations, and then a positive argument that there is an important public good, namely accountability, to be served by making these deliberations open to the public.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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