Discussion: Ethical Dimensions of Research Studies
In the best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Skloot, 2010), the author highlights the true story of an African-American woman who died in 1951 from cervical cancer. What makes her story unique is that prior to her death, cells from her tumor were removed and successfully grown in a petri dish. This was the first time scientists were able to successfully replicate cells outside the body, and it is estimated that billions of Lacks’ cells have been used in medical research. However, Henrietta Lacks was never asked for permission to take a sample and her family was never made aware of the widespread use of her cells. Although the culturing of her cells has been pivotal for advancing research, strong ethical concerns later arose about using these cells without patient or family approval.
This week’s readings describe historical examples of unethical research, such as a study of syphilis among African-American men in which treatment was withheld and a study in which live cancer cells were injected into elderly patients. Today, stricter controls that seek to protect study participants are placed on researchers, but breaches still occur. Careful attention must be given toward preventing unethical behavior. In this Discussion, you explore ethical considerations and issues in research.
- Select a current health-related case involving research ethics. (If none come to mind, browse the Internet to familiarize yourself with recent cases.)
- As you review the case that you have selected, reflect on the ethical principles discussed in “What Are the Major Ethical Issues in Conducting Research?” article found in this week’s Learning Resources. Which principles were breached in the case you have identified?
Discussion Board 2
Discussion: Big Data Risks and Rewards
When you wake in the morning, you may reach for your cell phone to reply to a few text or email messages that you missed overnight. On your drive to work, you may stop to refuel your car. Upon your arrival, you might swipe a key card at the door to gain entrance to the facility. And before finally reaching your workstation, you may stop by the cafeteria to purchase a coffee.
From the moment you wake, you are in fact a data-generation machine. Each use of your phone, every transaction you make using a debit or credit card, even your entrance to your place of work, creates data. It begs the question: How much data do you generate each day? Many studies have been conducted on this, and the numbers are staggering: Estimates suggest that nearly 1 million bytes of data are generated every second for every person on earth.
As the volume of data increases, information professionals have looked for ways to use big data—large, complex sets of data that require specialized approaches to use effectively. Big data has the potential for significant rewards—and significant risks—to healthcare. In this Discussion, you will consider these risks and rewards.
- Review the Resources and reflect on the web article Big Data Means Big Potential, Challenges for Nurse Execs.
- Reflect on your own experience with complex health information access and management and consider potential challenges and risks you may have experienced or observed.
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