RESEARCH CORNER: Your role in protecting research participants
Melissa A. Schneider DNP, RN-BC, ONC

January 2012 
Volume 42  Number 1
Pages 15 - 17
  PDF Version Available!

EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE (EBP) is now the foundation for nursing care delivery. Many nurses will become involved in research projects in their institutions because they believe sufficient evidence on which to base clinical practice is lacking.1 One of the goals of EBP is to translate research to clinical practice. To reach this goal, nurses may review research projects, enroll participants, assist with data collection, or translate research to the bedside.Whatever your role in research projects, you'll need to be aware of ethical concerns. This article describes how to protect human research participants by paying careful attention to the structure of the research, oversight of the research proposal, and regulation of participants' treatment.2 It starts by reviewing how these ethical concerns arose.Protecting human research participants hasn't always been a priority for researchers. In an extreme example, Nazi physicians performed experiments on concentration camp prisoners during World War II, committing atrocities in the name of science.3Another example of unethical research behavior occurred during the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male." In this study, Black men were denied treatment for syphilis even though penicillin became available while the study was underway. This study, conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service for almost 40 years, is widely considered to be one of the most serious violations of human rights in the history of research in this country.3When the injustices of studies like these were exposed, important changes started to take place to guide researchers in projects involving human participants. The Nuremberg Code is one of the first in a series of documents designed specifically to protect human subjects. Considered the cornerstone of modern research ethics, the Nuremberg Code is a predecessor to another important document, the Belmont Report.4Written by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical

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