Psychological Research Paper
This paper seeks to give an analysis on the ethical issues, involved in matters related to research. The chosen participants for the experiment are elderly people, who are at risk of suffering from dementia. The benefit and risk ratio should be addressed to the elderly participants before they make any decisions. Also, the impact this issue on research, which is psychological, ought to be known. The elderly are a venerable group whose rights should not be violated, when being used as subjects in research (Israel & Hay, 2006).
The Elderly for Clinical Research Studies of Dementia
There are many definitions, which have been used to describe ethics. It is often associated with morality whereby, people seek to know wrong from right. It is then possible to define ethics as behavior, which is dictated by norms of conduct. There are various places whereby, ethics can be learnt such as in school, at home, among other places where people interact. Childhood is the phase in life whereby, people develop a sense of their morality. This is because they are developing mentally and this will continue until they become adults. There are various codes, which govern the manner in which psychologists carry out their work. They include; Integrity, honesty, objectivity, carefulness, openness, confidentiality, among others (Israel & Hay, 2006).
In any research undertaking, ethics should be a guiding principle especially if human beings are the ones being researched upon. This means that the risks should be predicted through conducting an assessment carefully. Also, the benefits should be anticipated as compared to the burdens, which occur, as a result of the research being conducted. Most times, clinical trials are conducted during the research and this might have adverse effects on the human beings, who are to be experimented (Israel & Hay, 2006). These are often referred to as components, which are therapeutic. Other times, components, which are non-therapeutic, are used and this ensures that research questions are answered.
It is through hypothesis, which is null, that the question on research is answered. The reason is that the measured outcomes are in line with the arms found out during the trial. The procedures used may be in the form of procedures that use prognostic testing .Others are in the form of non-invasive or invasive procedures, which are diagnostic. Risks should be minimized while at the same time, benefits should be maximized. This is as a result of the protocol used during the research (Getz & Borfitz, 2002).
It has been found out through numerous studies that by the year 2030, the number of elderly people in the United States will be 70 million. This is due to the advancement made in the medical fields, which have in turn promoted the lives of many people. In turn, many elderly people are being used as subjects in many experiments, especially those concerned with dementia. There is a need to found out the issues involved in aging such as conditions, diseases, among others. For many years, the principles of ethics have played a great role in ensuring that participation of people in research is regulated. Those with dementia are regarded as coming from a group, which is vulnerable (National Bioethics Advisory Council, 2001).
The consent of the elderly persons should be given when they are being used as research subjects. This is in accordance to the protocol followed during research, as it ensures that the elderly are not mistreated. Dr. Beecher Henry found out that many subjects for dementia research were mistreated and this was in the year 1966. He accused the researchers of not following the protocols of research. According to him, this was a violation of the ethics upheld in this profession. In another incident, it was found out that cancer cells were being injected into elderly patients, who have dementia. This is an ethical violation, since the patients did not give their consent. If consent was given by the patients, then this would not have been a case of patient abuse (Getz & Borfitz, 2002).
Voluntary decisions should be made by the elderly people, so that they are aware of the risks as well as the benefits involved in the research. Most elderly people tend to believe that since they are going to be involved in research, they will benefit greatly. They believe that the benefits involved are of a therapeutic nature. All information should be disclosed regardless of whether the research is beneficial or not. In investigating the different stages of dementia, it is possible to come up with sufficient treatment for dementia. During participation, it is often possible that the participants will not benefit directly (Getz & Borfitz, 2002).
Often, it becomes extremely difficult for the elderly due to their mental and physical impairments, to know how the research protocols are. Due to the nature of dementia it is often difficult for the elderly to provide consent for research. This in turn creates problems during research activities. The elderly people might not have the capability of making decisions, which are rational. There are other barriers, which exist during the psychological research protocol. The risk of the elderly suffering from coercion is great and this is because they are constantly being pressured. The pressure may come from the elderly person’s family, friends and even the researchers themselves (National Bioethics Advisory Council, 2001). Most times, not all the volunteers in the research agreed out of their own consent. It is often easy to manipulate people who are aging, due to their state of mind. Other elderly people may want to agree as they are in a state of desperation. This is because there is no other treatment, which has proven to cure dementia. All researchers must be aware that it is unethical to lure participants by providing false information.
Morality and scientific justifications are raised when it comes to matters concerning the elderly, as well the diseases, which affects them. This means that they should be included in all protocols of research. Assumptions should not be made as the elderly people are human beings, who have the right to make decisions, which are informed. People who predisposed to harm or danger are known as being vulnerable such as elderly people. There are many practices, which are involved in clinical research. Effective policies should be set up to ensure that they elderly are not taken advantage of when they are being used for research. Thus, it is beneficial that a surrogate be involved in this matter, so that they can make decisions regarding the research issues (National Bioethics Advisory Council, 2001).
In conclusion, it is important that during research, all norms of ethics are adhered to. Elderly people should be provided with all the needed information, before they are able to make decisions. Also, during the research they should not be harmed, but instead benefit.
Getz, K. & Borfitz, D. (2002). Informed Consent: A Guide to the Risks and Benefits of Volunteering for Clinical Trials. Boston: Thomson Healthcare.
Israel, M. & Hay, I. (2006). Research Ethics for Social Scientists. London: Sage Publications.
National Bioethics Advisory Council (2001). Ethical and Policy Issues in Research Involving Human Participants. Retrieved September 8, 2011, from http://bioethics.georgetown.edu/nbac/human/overvol1.html.