BMC Medical Ethics 16 (1):1-7 (2015)

Jeremy Snyder
Simon Fraser University
BackgroundWhile ethicists have for many years called for human subject trial participants and, in some cases, local community members to benefit from participation in pharmaceutical and other intervention-based therapies, little is known about how these discussions are impacting the practice of research ethics boards that grant ethical approval to many of these studies.MethodsTelephone interviews were conducted with 23 REB members from across Canada, a major funder country for human subject research internationally. All interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. After coding, the data was analyzed to identify central themes and topics. Themes were identified, application of the themes was confirmed, and these themes were then used to populate the findings of this manuscript.ResultsOur analysis of the interviews identified two primary themes when considering what benefits are owed to research participants and their communities. 1) Most study participants felt that given that these studies are led by persons in the role of researcher rather than health care provider, they had a limited obligation to provide benefits to study participants. 2) These REB members were all working in Canada, a high income country where most residents enjoy high levels of access to health care. As a result of this context, the study participants tended to focus on ethical concerns including obtaining informed consent and avoiding undue inducement to participate in research rather than ensuring that study participants directly benefit from successful trials.ConclusionsResearch on REB members’ attitudes toward what benefits are owed to study participants and community members is needed in other countries in order to determine how context affects these attitudes
Keywords Post-trial access  Fair benefits  Reasonable availability
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DOI 10.1186/s12910-015-0079-8
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