Research with human subjects is performed in a variety of scientific fields, including medicine, public health, social sciences, psychology, communication, and so on. The “exploitation” of human beings as subjects of research is often viewed as a necessary price for the development of science and medicine and the promotion of human health. The bioethics, legal, and medical communities have searched for diverse ways and means to protect the interests, wellbeing, and welfare of individuals participating as subjects in research.
The very broad range of human-subject research raises various issues, some of which are shared across different fields, such as informed consent and the protection of privacy. Other issues are related to specific fields, such as “deception” in psychological research or the potential for physical harm in medical research.
Selected ethical issues:
- Autonomy – informed consent and the right to end participation in the study.
- Protecting the privacy and medical confidentiality of research participants.
- Participation in research as social solidarity.
- Risk–benefit ratio.
- (Under)representation of population groups in research.
- Research with subjects lacking legal competence (minors and wards).