Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Hope You All Get Pox

This is a little off-topic for the blog, but to understand the IRB system, it helps to understand the history of the U.S. Public Health Service, and to understand the history of the U.S. Public Health Service, it helps to read Michael Willrich's Pox: An American History, which I just finished reading and am very glad to plug.

The history of public health is a struggle between the desire for liberty and the desire for health, since many of the most effective public health measures--quarantine, health codes, compulsory vaccination, and perhaps bans on 20-ounce soft drinks--are also infringements of liberty. Willrich's account of smallpox at the turn of the twentieth century does a marvellous job at presenting both sides of this struggle. It explains laypeople's legitimate fears about the doctors and health officers who came to snatch them and their children, but also why those health officers took pride in their snatching. We may wonder who in today's IRB debate most resembles the arrogant vaccinators of a century ago: researchers seeking scientific progress, or ethics boards seeking to restrain them?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Limited-Time Offer! Act Now!

SAGE has kindly made my article, "The Case against Ethics Review in the Social Sciences," free to access for a month. Download it while you can!

[Zachary M. Schrag, "The Case against Ethics Review in the Social Sciences," Research Ethics 7 (December 2011): 120-131, doi:10.1177/174701611100700402]

Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Community Members" Play Murky Roles

Robert Klitzman continues to publish findings from his 2007-2009 series of interviews with 46 IRB chairs, directors, administrators, and members. In an Academic Medicine article, he finds that IRBs' "community members" struggle because their "roles can be murky."

Robert Klitzman, "Institutional Review Board Community Members," Academic Medicine 87 (July 2012), doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182578b54, post author corrections version, 22 May 2012.]

Friday, June 8, 2012

Study Finds IRBs Often Fail to Discuss Common Rule Criteria

The Common Rule [45 CFR 46.111(a)] requires IRBs to determine that each protocol they approve satisfies seven requirements: risks are minimized, risks are reasonable, selection of subject is equitable, informed consent is sought, informed consent is documented, safety is monitored when appropriate, and privacy and confidentiality are protected when appropriate. A team of researchers has found that "the IRB made clear determinations on all relevant criteria for 20 of the 104 (19%) protocols" they examined.

[Charles W. Lidz, Paul S. Appelbaum, Robert Arnold, Philip Candilis, William Gardner, Suzanne Myers, and Lorna Simon. "How Closely Do Institutional Review Boards Follow the Common Rule?" Academic Medicine 87 (July 2012), doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182575e2e, post author corrections version, 22 May 2012]

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sex and Trauma Surveys No Riskier Than Cognitive Tests

A team of psychologists has found that responding to survey questions about trauma and sex is no more stressful than completing "well-established cognitive tests."

[Elizabeth Yeater, Geoffrey Miller, Jenny Rinehart, and Erica Nason. "Trauma and Sex Surveys Meet Minimal Risk Standards Implications for Institutional Review Boards." Psychological Science (Published online before print May 22, 2012), doi: 10.1177/0956797611435131. h/t Michelle Meyer.]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ethics Committees as Foucauldian Shepherds

Three Norwegian researchers using a "Foucault-inspired analysis" charge that "ethics monitoring bodies can be conceived as executing a type of paternalistic power over vulnerable and marginalized groups, a practice which is virtually identical to the exercise of power that, according to their mandate, they should be protecting these groups against."

[Truls I Juritzen, Harald Grimen, and Kristin Heggen. “Protecting Vulnerable Research Participants: A Foucault-Inspired Analysis of Ethics Committees.” Nursing Ethics 18, no. 5 (September 2011): 640–650, doi: 10.1177/0969733011403807]