This chapter discusses the history of involving human subjects in research, the general ethical principles of research, and ethical challenges specifically associated with conducting research involving elders. Research on health-related problems of elders is important not only because of demographic trends, but also because of a lack of previous research involving elders and poor understanding of the processes. Before World War Two, no internationally acknowledged code of ethics for involving human subjects in research existed. During the war, Nazi physicians conducted many experiments of dubious value on thousands of prisoners. However, elders who are potential research subjects are of two types; those who are vigorous, independent, and autonomous, and those who are dependent, decisionally impaired, or dependent on others. Meaningful and ethically valid informed consent requires that research subjects be given relevant and sufficient information, including the purpose of the study, potential risks and alternatives to participation, and the subject's right to withdraw from the study at any time. Assessing the decision-making capacity of potential research subjects is an important step in the informed consent process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)