E-mail's moral, ethical issues discussed

Nov 16, 2005

Australian scientists say e-mail provides new opportunities for health researchers, but also raises a wide range of moral and ethical issues.

Chief among those issues is patient confidentiality, said Dr. Debbie Kralik of the University of South Australia.

"Researchers work to very strict ethical protocols" she said. "However, a variety of complex issues arise during e-mail research that can make the application of traditional ethical standards, such as consent, identity and confidentiality, difficult."

Kralik and her team developed a 12-point plan to assist other scientists considering e-mail research.

Among the top points is making sure people taking part in the study well understand what it will entail and provide their informed consent.

Scientists also must be sure study participants understand their privacy and anonymity cannot be guaranteed, since emails will be saved on other participant's computers.

Additional points include whether pseudonyms and online persona qualify as confidential information, whether participants be provided with the opportunity to debrief once the study is completed, and how will the identity of group members be kept confidential.

The study appears in the November issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Explainer: How to solve a jewel heist (and why it takes so long)

Related Stories

Q&A: Why are antibiotics used in livestock?

13 hours ago

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, is the latest company to ask its suppliers to curb the use of antibiotics in farm animals. Here's a rundown of what's driving the decision: ...

Recommended for you

Top UK scientists warn against EU exit

May 22, 2015

A group of leading British scientists including Nobel-winning geneticist Paul Nurse warned leaving the European Union could threaten research funding, in a letter published in The Times newspaper on Friday.

How we discovered the three revolutions of American pop

May 22, 2015

Dr Matthias Mauch discusses his recent scientific analysis of the "fossil record" of the Billboard charts prompted widespread attention, particularly the findings about the three musical "revolutions" that shaped the musical la ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.