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New Approach to Study Research Ethics Proposed (web article)


Low- and middle-income countries face complex challenges associated with the ethical conduct of scientific research and the protection of research participants. Adnan Hyder, MD, PhD, MPH, a public health researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, along with colleagues, has proposed a new framework for understanding and evaluating research ethics in developing countries. The new model, outlined in an article published in The Lancet, takes into account the larger social context in which researchers and ethics review boards operate.

“Through our proposed framework, we attempt to systematically describe how a complex set of social, political and economic circumstances might contribute to ethical conduct in research through their influence on factors such as respect for the authority of the research ethics committees and the willingness of investigators and administrators to follow or break rules for personal gain,” explained Hyder, lead author of the article and an associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. “The framework reflects our belief that institutions are responsible for shaping their own cultures, but shows that they can be influenced by local socioeconomic and political circumstances while fulfilling this duty,” said Hyder, who is also a core faulty member of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

The authors note that the framework is designed to characterize the relationship between a country’s stage of development and its research institutions' ability to develop and sustain effective ethics programs. They also state that studies are needed to test the framework.

The complete article is available in the March 7, 2009, edition of The Lancet.

Media contact for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or