Ethical research is essential for creating evidence-based practices for nursing. Adams and Callahan (n.d.) explain the Belmont Report’s principles: respect for autonomy, beneficence, and justice. These aspects are essential for conducting all research. For full autonomy to be present, an individual must understand all aspects of the research study, make a reasoned judgment about the effect participation will have on them, and choose to participate free from coercion. Beneficence holds researchers accountable to do good and to cause no harm. The risks of harm to a study’s participants should be minimized while benefits are maximized. Justice occurs when those who participate in research should benefit from the studies performed and with an equitable selection of selected subjects. Whether it be of clinical or educational background, all research should adhere to the same standards of ethics.
Unfortunately, most ethical and moral research standards came to be after historical events that disregarded and violated human subjects. An example of this occurs in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1932. Research from Gray et al. (2017, p. 159) outlines the study in full. Six hundred black men were placed in two groups: 400 with untreated syphilis and 200 without syphilis. Consent was not obtained from all participants, and many were not informed of the study’s full scope or even aware they were in a study. The research study continued for 40 years, and the health of the men with untreated syphilis suffered, with many dying. Even then, treatment was never given to those in the syphilis group. Risks to participants were not minimized in this study; instead, participation increased risks. The participants were an extremely vulnerable population, disadvantaged black men living in a rural setting.
Gray et al. (2017, p. 162) explain the HIPAA Privacy Rule as a policy that ensures individuals’ protected health information (PHI) is not used in situations that put their information at risk. In clinical practice, the plan guarantees that those with access to PHI do not distribute it, intentionally or unintentionally. In research, the rule applies when the study is conducted in a healthcare facility that accesses and collects PHI.