TAG ARCHIVES FOR Question of the Month

7
Dec2018

Scientists have created entities using artificial intelligence technology. These “betas” appear to have human-like intelligence and emotions so they could, for example, serve as companions for people who are lonely. The scientists want to conduct psychological experiments on them to improve their performance and reliability. While betas are not protected by human subjects protection regulations, the scientists have asked your institutional review board to review the ethics of the experiments anyway. Read more

25
Oct2018

You are a member of an IRB reviewing a study with an unusual feature: Because the study population will be very diverse economically, the investigator wants to vary the stipend based on each study participant’s financial situation. Her reasoning is that a fixed stipend for everybody would exploit high-income people but unduly influence low-income people. For the purposes of this survey, the investigator knows everyone's income. Read more

20
Sep2018

You are a physician at a Catholic hospital investigating a new treatment for a women’s health condition. This healthy volunteer study requires an unpleasant and somewhat risky procedure, so you do not expect to meet your enrollment target. The first five participants are nuns who say their primary motivation is altruism. What, if anything, should you do? Read more

13
Aug2018

You are the chief human research protections officer at a prestigious academic medical center (AMC). You have just discovered that two doctors on your staff have been secretly conducting a clinical study on their patients. The doctors have broken every rule in the human subjects protection book. They did not even tell their patients they were in a clinical study, and some of them died. The president of the AMC has called a meeting this afternoon where you will have to explain the situation and make your recommendations. What a nightmare! To complicate things, it turns out that the study treatment is an astonishing medical breakthrough that can save thousands of lives. The doctors want to submit a paper to a major medical journal by the end of the week. A Nobel Prize could be in order. Read more

9
Jul2018

You are a member of an IRB that is reviewing a study on the effectiveness of placebo “treatments.” It is well known that different sizes, shapes and colors of pills cause different levels of the placebo effect, which also varies by the therapeutic indication and the country/culture. The investigators want to test the placebo effect across a broad range of diseases and countries. The placebo pill will be presented as a “booster” to their current treatment--not a placebo.  Read more