Historical perspectives and their significant impact on the development of ethical standards governing research using human participants



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Milgrim, in his Obedience to Authority stated, “I observed a mature and initially poised businessman enter the laboratory smiling and confident. Within twenty minutes he was reduced to a twitching, stuttering wreck, who was rapidly approaching a point of nervous collapse.”


Impact - Criticism of the study centered upon the extreme psychological stress experienced by some participants and on the fact that due to the deception involved, informed consent had not been obtained. The role of deception in human participant’s research continues to be debated even today. As a result of this and other behavioral studies, the federal guidelines specifically instruct investigators and IRBs to consider not just physical harms that may be attached to research, but also other harms including psychological, social, legal and economic.
(Dunn & Gary Chadwick, ps. 5-7)

The following narrative was in part extracted and in part paraphrased by Amy Henderson-Harr from two separate sources:


Cynthia Mcguire Dunn & Gary Chadwick Protecting Study Volunteers in Research: A Manual for Investigative Sites (1999) CenterWatch, Inc., University of Rochester Medical Center, 1999, p 2-4.
The National Institutes of Health Human Participant Protections Education for Research Teams online tutorial, available from the National Cancer Institute http://cme.cancer.gov/c01/.


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