Within research, ethics is an essential measure to protect society and the participants in the research study. According to the ANA code of ethics, nurses collaborate with other professional bodies to protect life and respect human dignity. In the case of Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Eunice failed to articulate nursing values and maintain the integrity of the profession by not integrating the principle of social justice in her practice. Additionally, Eunice Rivers overlooked the responsibility she owes to herself and others particularly the responsibility to promote health and preserve human life.
Considering the social-cultural context of Rivers working time, as a nurse, she had no professional connections to support ethical research. During the time, racism was optimal and whites oppressed black people. As a black woman working in a hierarchical system led by whites all she could do was follow directives and not ask questions.
Clinical research has become a part of everyday practice for nurses. Nurses recruit study subjects to participate in the research. Before any investigation takes off the IRB has to consent to the study involving human participants. The Excelsior College has an IRB board that has guidelines on the approval process. The policy aims at protecting the participants of the research. The IRB board consists of members appointed by the Provost and the chief academic officer. Members of the board serve a three-year term and are composed of individuals with varying racial, social backgrounds qualified through maturity experience and expertise. The primary mandate of the IRB is to safeguard the rights of the human subjects and enforce the federal regulations (Research Involving Human Subjects, n. d).
Professional nursing is changing at a rapid speed, and new practicing methods are emerging. The nursing community is shifting from focusing on the institution to the community and from acute care to prevention. Research based studying is facilitating the shift in focus. The social, political and regulatory bodies govern the research practices by formulating the boundaries within which the nurses conduct research. In most cases, the legislative and regulatory factors aim at protecting the human participants in the research (Nathaniel, 2010, n. p).
First, the legal and political factors influence the research by enacting the laws that guide the research practice. For instance in the United State, no research can be undertaken without the IRB of an institution authorizing it. Additionally, the regulations mandate and require nurses or the researchers to maintain the autonomy of human participants. Furthermore, before scientists embark on a research process, the law requires them to submit their research topic to the IRB for consent (Nathaniel, 2010, n. p). In this way, the law has fully covered and ensured that researchers adhere to study ethics. Ethical considerations operate in narrow boundaries of benefit and harm, privacy and autonomy.
Secondly, the socio-cultural consent has a significant contribution towards the adherence to research ethics. In the context of the Tuskegee study, socio-cultural factors contributed substantially in the complacent violation of the research ethics. For instance, the black community respected Eunice Rivers because she was a professional nurse whose work benefited people she cared for. Based on the social respect accorded to her immediate community Eunice exploited her people by involving them in research without their consent (Polit, & Beck, 2014, p.125). Additionally, she did not protect her participants from harm and showed a little respect for human dignity. Eunice used her social influence to recruit human participants in the syphilis research and at the same time violated research ethics. It is clear that exploitation of social, cultural factors contribute significantly in the violation of the research ethics.
Ethical regulations are necessary for conducting research but often pose challenges for the researcher. Rules influence the outcomes of the investigation and at times complicate the whole process. For example, research carried out on animals, the informed consent requirement is overlooked, but the law states that the process should be conducted in a humane manner. Ethical regulations are straightforward and offer protection to the vulnerable groups such as children, mentally and emotionally disabled people by providing guidelines on their participation (Polit, & Beck, 2014, p.133).
We can do it today.
It is evident that as researchers strive to develop quality evidence practice, they must adhere to the ethical rules and protect human rights. The training of baccalaureate nurses provides necessary understanding and interpretative knowledge to speak out if ethical violations occur. Additionally, researchers sometimes get frustrated with the varying submission protocols and processes to the IRB because some of the requirements appear rigid.
- Doody, O., & Noonan, M. (2016). Nursing research ethics, guidance, and application in practice. British Journal of Nursing. 25(14). http://dx.doi.org/10.12968/bjon.2016.25.14.803
- Research Involving Human Subjects (n. d) Excelsior College. Retrieved from http://www.excelsior.edu/research-involving-human-subjects
- Nathaniel, A. (2010). Institutional Review Boards: Perspectives from the United States. The Grounded Theory Review: An international journal, 33.
- Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2014). Essentials of nursing research: Appraising evidence for nursing practice (8th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.