Nov 05 PeterQUIGethics

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"The Ethics of Qualitative Research: Negotiating the Nature of Closeness and the Closeness of Nature" : 

"The Ethics of Qualitative Research: Negotiating the Nature of Closeness and the Closeness of Nature" Elizabeth Peter Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, Member, Joint Centre for Bioethics


Overview Background: Research Ethics The nature of qualitative research Invasiveness Confidentiality & Privacy Emergent Designs & the Unanticipated Commentary (Judith Friedland)

Nazi Experiments : 

Nazi Experiments

Nuremberg Trials: 

Nuremberg Trials

Nuremberg Code 1948: 

Nuremberg Code 1948 “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely necessary.”

Kant’s Categorical Imperatives: 

Kant’s Categorical Imperatives Categorical Imperative I “I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become universal law.” Categorical Imperative II “One must act to treat every person as an end and never as a means only.”

Tri-Council Policy Statement : 

Tri-Council Policy Statement

An Ethic of Research Involving Human Subjects: 

An Ethic of Research Involving Human Subjects The selection and achievement of morally acceptable ends. The morally acceptable means to those ends. (Tri-Council 2003)

Guiding Ethical Principles: 

Guiding Ethical Principles Respect for Human Dignity Respect for Free & Informed Consent Respect for Vulnerable Persons Respect for Privacy & Confidentiality Respect of Justice & Inclusiveness Balancing Harms & Benefits Minimizing Harm Maximizing Benefit

Pythagorean Table of Opposites: 

Pythagorean Table of Opposites Male Determinate Form Bounded Clear Rest Straight Light Good Female Indeterminate Form Unbounded Vague Motion Curved Dark Bad

Quantitative Research : 

Quantitative Research

Qualitative Research : 

Qualitative Research

Potential Risks: Invasiveness: 

Potential Risks: Invasiveness “The REB should adopt a proportionate approach based on the general principle that the more invasive the research, the greater should be the care in assessing the research.” (TCPS, 1.6)

Invasiveness : 

Invasiveness Establishing Rapport In-depth Interviewing Sensitive Research Vulnerable Participants/Subjects

Establishing Rapport?: 

Establishing Rapport? Many scholars “feel that most of traditional in-depth interviewing is unethical, whether wittingly or unwittingly. The techniques and tactics of interviewing, they say, are really ways of manipulating the respondents.” (Fontana & Frey, 2000, p. 662)

Clinical vs. Research Relationships : 

Clinical vs. Research Relationships Clinical Relationships Primarily focused on the needs of the patient/client Research Relationships Primarily focused on the need of the researcher to collect data

Safeguards : 

Safeguards Self-reflection Informed consent Clarity!

In-Depth Interviewing: 

In-Depth Interviewing

Invasiveness: In-depth Interviewing: 

Invasiveness: In-depth Interviewing Can be intrusive psychologically, socially & politically Re-traumatization possible Cultural variations in response Emotional reactions in interviewer possible also


Safeguards Interviewer expertise Available follow-up Timing and length of interviews Emotional stability of participants Nature of interview questions Opportunity to end interview


Benefits An opportunity to help others and to express emotions Overall benefits—exploration of uncharted area, potential to develop understanding and interventions

Sensitive Research: 

Sensitive Research “A sensitive topic is one which potentially poses for those involved a substantial threat, the emergence of which renders problematic for the researcher and/or the researched the collection, holding, and/or dissemination of research data.” (Lee & Renzetti, 1990, p. 512)

Types of Sensitive Research : 

Types of Sensitive Research Delves into some deeply personal experience Is concerned with deviance or social control Impinges on the vested interests of powerful persons or the exercise of coercion or domination Deals with things sacred to those being studied which they do not wish profaned (Lee & Renzetti, p.6)


Safeguards Questioning of the social & scientific value of the research: Should the research be conducted? Expertise of the researcher Knowledge of the sensitive subject

Vulnerable Participants : 

Vulnerable Participants

Vulnerable Participants: 

Vulnerable Participants Examples: Mentally incompetent people Members of oppressed groups, e.g. people with mental illnesses, prisoners, homeless people Those traumatized, in pain, very ill *Vulnerable participants may or may not be those involved in the research of sensitive topics


Safeguards Consent by a surrogate decision maker if necessary Questioning choice of participant population: Could a less vulnerable group be used? Does the research have social value? Will the group benefit from the results? Timing of research Research evidence

Confidentiality & Privacy: 

Confidentiality & Privacy Naturalistic Observation Focus Groups Report Writing

Privacy: Naturalistic Observation: 

Privacy: Naturalistic Observation “Naturalistic observation is used to study behaviour in a natural environment. Because knowledge of the research can be expected to influence behaviour, naturalistic observation generally implies that the subjects do not know that they are being observed, and hence can not have given their free and informed consent. Due to the need for respect for privacy, even in public places, naturalistic observation raises concerns of the privacy and dignity of those being observed.” (TCPS 2.5)

Privacy & Naturalistic Observation: 

Privacy & Naturalistic Observation Private settings: homes, sometimes hospitals and workplaces, Sacred settings: places of worship *Have all occupants provided consent? *Have cultural differences been considered?


Safeguards Consents of all observed individuals when potential for an infringement of privacy is high or a mechanism to avoid observation of non-participants Understanding of cultural differences

Confidentiality: Focus Groups : 

Confidentiality: Focus Groups There can be no guarantee of confidentiality in focus groups A breach in confidentiality could have serious consequences for a research participants


Safeguards Reconsider the use of focus group when researching a sensitive topic Encourage confidentiality Inform participants of limits to confidentiality

Confidentiality: Report Writing: 

Confidentiality: Report Writing Rich data—revealing unique characteristics of individuals through words & pictures Small samples Unique samples

Safeguards : 

Safeguards Unique identifying information should be removed or not gathered at all Increase sample & number of sites Consider implications personal, social, & political: moral imagination Should all data be published?

Emergent Designs & The Unanticipated : 

Emergent Designs & The Unanticipated Predicting Harms Research Ethics Review

Predicting Potential Harms: 

Predicting Potential Harms What could participants reveal? Suicidal/homicidal intentions Abuse to children Criminal Activity *Research data can be subpoenaed *Responsibilities of health professionals


Safeguards Understanding & disclosure of foreseeable harms Moral imagination Legal advice

Emergent Designs: Research Ethics Review: 

Emergent Designs: Research Ethics Review Ethical approval of research not yet designed? Participant consent to research not yet designed? Predicting harms & benefits Suggestion: Staged approval process

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