Research With High-Risk Populations: Balancing Science, Ethics, and Law
Research conducted on high-risk populations raises unique ethical and legal questions. While collecting data, researchers conducting descriptive, non-intervention studies may be faced with threats of harm to or by the participants, such as suicide, child abuse, or violence. At what point should the researcher override confidentiality protection agreements? How do researchers address the tensions between successfully recruiting participants while communicating their obligation to disclose threatening behaviors? How do researchers identify and adequately communicate to participants the limits of confidentiality protection?
Research With High-Risk Populations provides guidance to social scientists regarding their ethical and legal responsibilities to respond appropriately to threats of harm that may arise during the course of data collection. Contributing authors include leading researchers, ethicists, lawyers, and Institutional Review Board (IRB) members from across the country who illuminate the complexities of the issues using case studies from their own research projects. This collection of ethical and legal analyses examines both the challenges of conducting research designed to responsibly gain a better understanding of the origins of serious health problems, and the moral and legal obligations of researchers who learn of threats of violence in the course of pursuing the primary objectives of the research.
This book maps out an appropriate balance between protecting human research participants from harm and generating new scientific knowledge. It will enable researchers and IRB members to become more knowledgeable about the different ways of allowing valuable research to go forward, while minimizing the potential for harm and protecting all parties involved from undue harm and exploitation.