Policy ForumEthics

Protecting Communities in Biomedical Research

Science  18 Aug 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5482, pp. 1142-1144
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5482.1142

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Summary

Although for the last 50 years, ethicists dealing with human experimentation have focused primarily on the need to protect individual research subjects and vulnerable groups, biomedical research, especially in genetics, now requires the establishment of standards for the protection of communities. We have developed such a strategy, based on five steps. (i) Identification of community characteristics relevant to the biomedical research setting, (ii) delineation of a typology of different types of communities using these characteristics, (iii) determination of the range of possible community protections, (iv) creation of connections between particular protections and one or more community characteristics necessary for its implementation, and (v) synthesis of community characteristics and possible protections to define protections appropriate for each type of community. Depending on the particular community, consent and consultation, consultation alone, or no added protections may be required for research.

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