Ethics: Key Principles and Processes

Today I attended a seminar delivered as part of the MRes in Applied Health Research course at the University of Leicester. Dr Susan Wallace delivered the session, giving an overview of the key ethical issues pertaining to research study design. A discussion followed with interesting opinions voiced concerning data confidentiality and privacy, problems surrounding informed consent with vulnerable persons,  and the balance between the risk to patients and the potential benefits to science (medical or social) when deciding to proceed with a project. In my opinion, the over-riding principle that health researchers should have in the back of their mind is “do no harm”. A good research design  that demonstrates an awareness of this principle will be more likely to stick to rules (changing bad rules instead of breaking them, as Susan mentioned) and encourage a more ethical research approach .