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PLoS One. 2009;4(3):e4659. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004659. Epub 2009 Mar 2.

Biomedical scientists' perceptions of ethical and social implications: is there a role for research ethics consultation?

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1
Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Research ethics consultation programs are being established with a goal of addressing the ethical, societal, and policy considerations associated with biomedical research. A number of these programs are modelled after clinical ethics consultation services that began to be institutionalized in the 1980s. Our objective was to determine biomedical science researchers' perceived need for and utility of research ethics consultation, through examination of their perceptions of whether they and their institutions faced ethical, social or policy issues (outside those mandated by regulation) and examination of willingness to seek advice in addressing these issues. We conducted telephone interviews and focus groups in 2006 with researchers from Stanford University and a mailed survey in December 2006 to 7 research universities in the U.S.

FINDINGS:

A total of 16 researchers were interviewed (75% response rate), 29 participated in focus groups, and 856 responded to the survey (50% response rate). Approximately half of researchers surveyed (51%) reported that they would find a research ethics consultation service at their institution moderately, very or extremely useful, while over a third (36%) reported that such a service would be useful to them personally. Respondents conducting human subjects research were more likely to find such a service very to extremely useful to them personally than respondents not conducting human subjects research (20% vs 10%; chi(2) p<0.001).

CONCLUSION:

Our findings indicate that biomedical researchers do encounter and anticipate encountering ethical and societal questions and concerns and a substantial proportion, especially clinical researchers, would likely use a consultation service if they were aware of it. These findings provide data to inform the development of such consultation programs in general.

PMID:
19252737
PMCID:
PMC2645500
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0004659
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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