Please describe and identify an ethical problem that the authors would have considered while planning this research.
This issue could have been dealt with to the satisfaction by a Human Research Ethics Committee. What would the researchers need to do to avoid this ethical dilemma?
Whitworth, Loftus, Skinner, Gasson, Barker, Bucks, & Thomas (2013) considered ethical concerns when planning their research. They would consider the unique vulnerability and impairment of people with mental illness, intellectual disability, or cognitive impairment to be research participants.
In their journal, the authors attempted to include people with Parkinson’s disease in research that would have involved personality traits like extraversion or neuroticism on health-related quality life.
According to Chapter 4.5 of The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (Nhmrc.gov.au (2014), people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, or cognitive impairment can participate in any research process.
But, participants must be limited to the impairment, illness or disability they are currently suffering in order to be included in the research process (Carlson 2013).
Unfortunately, when the authors sought consent from the participants, they did not take into account their medical conditions.
It is clear that participants were not able to provide accurate information about their medical history, current medications, duration, marital status, or age as requested by the research team.
This results in errors in the study data gathered through questionnaires and interviews.
Aside from the potential for participants to be involved in research, even if the condition is not serious or temporary, it is possible to involve them in the process.
In this scenario, consent could be withdrawn or modified.
A Human Research Ethics Committee might have approved the resolution of the ethical question of distinct vulnerability of participants. This would include taking reasonable care to ensure that any risk or burden incurred during the research process was justified by adequate beneficence.
Second, researchers should have sought consent from the participant prior to the start of the research.
If the participant is not able to consent, it would have been possible to seek consent from their family.
The researchers should have sought consent in all cases, including those where the illness, disability, impairment, or episode is short-term or episodic.
The consent should be sought by the participants. They should also have a discussion with the researchers about the loss or variability of their consent.
Witnessing the consent of participation should be done by someone who is capable of understanding the risks and merits (Weisstub-Florez, 1997).
The witness should not be affiliated with the research team. Furthermore, the witness should have intimate knowledge of the participant (Weisstub & Arboleda-Florez, 1997).
Another way researchers could have satisfied the Human Research Ethics Committee requirements is to consider the nature and severity of the impairment, treatment or medication currently being used, as well as the discomfort and discomfort experienced by the participants and the complexity of this study.
The ethical component in nursing education:
Research ethics and intellectual disability: Expanding the debates
Chapter 4.5: Individuals with a cognitive impairment or an intellectual disability