Ethics Violations in Human Research


Ethics Violations in Human Research throughout History

Ethics are commonly viewed as norms for conduct and how we determine right from wrong. In human research, these ethics are the guidelines under which we evaluate our work and how it affects people.

Ethics review boards are established to evaluate the ethics of a research protocol. While not comprehensive, below is a list of ethics violations that led to ethical guidelines such as those established in the Belmont Report.

Please note that reading through these examples will cause discomfort and unease.

    • 1932: Start of the Tuskegee experiments withholding established syphilis treatments from black men
    • 1939Nuremberg atrocities committed during WWII
    • 1939Unit 731 illegal testing of chemical and biological weapons on civilians

I update this list as I receive additional examples. If you have an example to add to the list, please email me a link to the violation with a brief, one or two sentence summary.

Increasing Understanding of Diagnostic Test Outcomes

Understanding diagnostic test outcomes requires determining the positive predictive value (PPV) of the test, which most laypeople and medical professionals struggle to do. Despite advances found with frequency formats and visual aids, less than 40% of people can typically identify this value. This study tests the impact of using congruent reference classes in problem-question pairings, evaluates the role of numeracy, and assesses how diagnostic value estimates affect reported likelihood-to-use the test.

Young adult perspectives on the selection of pharmaceuticals for mental health treatment

Shared decision making places an emphasis on patient understanding and engagement. However, when it comes to treatment selection, research tends to focus on how doctors select pharmaceutical treatments. The current study is a qualitative assessment of how patients choose among three common treatments that have varying degrees of scientific support and side effects. We used qualitative data from 157 undergraduates (44 males, 113 females; mean age = 21.89 years) that was collected as part of a larger correlational study of depression and critical thinking skills. Qualitative analysis revealed three major themes: shared versus independent decision making, confidence in the research and the drug, and cost and availability.