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35 Int. J. Offender Therapy & Comp. Criminology 1 (1991)

handle is hein.journals/ijotcc35 and id is 1 raw text is: 


Associate Editor's Editorial



Ethical Issues Regarding Research

on Prisoners

J. Arboleda-F6rez,  M.D.



A dvancement in the causes and treatment of   medical conditions even-
     tually requires the use of human subjects. Before using human subjects,
investigators must be aware of the medical and ethical considerations, as well
as the legal rules and precedents that apply to researchers or institutions
where the research is being conducted. These rules pertain to the selection
of subjects, the rights of subjects, and the duties of the researchers.
    Medical research on human  subjects is generally conducted on compe-
tent individuals. These subjects must be able to receive and understand the
information about  the proposed research and be  able to give informed
consent about their participation. In psychiatry, the problem of competency
among  research subjects is frequently encountered. Whether the subjects
are competent and whether they can give appropriate informed consent to
participate should be a matter of major concern to psychiatric researchers,
and are factors that have to be fully assessed before starting any research
project.

RISKS  AND   BENEFITS
    To  engage human  subjects in research is to take a risk where proba-
bility of materializing into harm or injury is unknown. It is an accepted
procedure to try treatments on animals to quantify and minimize potential
untoward  effects. Eventually, the treatment should be tried on humans. At
this stage, the researcher should have a clear idea of the benefits to be
gained from the use of the treatment under investigation, and knowledge of
the risks. Risks and benefits should be clearly assessed. Risks have to be
justified, not just in the general sense, but in regard to each particular
individual subject's medical condition. Justification of risk has to be case
specific and quantified both at the physical and emotional levels; by the
same token, benefits have to be case specific. General benefits such as the
advancement  of  knowledge  or the social good, are not sufficient. The
subject has to obtain some  physical or emotional benefit. Similarly, as
much  as risks have to be minimized, it is the responsibility of the researcher
to maximize the benefits.

International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 35(1), 1991


from the SAGE Social Science Collections. All Rights Reserved.

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