E-mail's moral, ethical issues discussed

November 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: Are we at a new tipping point in the war on climate change?

Related Stories

Are we at a new tipping point in the war on climate change?

September 3, 2015

For four decades UC San Diego atmospheric scientist Veerabhadran "Ram" Ramanathan has warned that carbon dioxide and other emissions from human activity are heating up the planet. One of the first scientists to predict global ...

Encryption ethics: are email providers responsible for privacy?

November 28, 2013

Ex-National Security Agency (NSA) employee Edward Snowden's various leaks – the most recent being a slide showing that the NSA infected 50,000 of computer networks with remote-controlled spyware – confirm that state intelligence ...

Protecting our rights to privacy and digital dignity

April 21, 2015

How many of us read the terms and conditions when signing up to a social media account or downloading a new app? And does agreeing to these rules offer us any real protection from big business looking to mine our data for ...

The ethical slipperiness of hoaxes

June 1, 2015

Hoaxes sure can stir up a lot of emotion, can't they? We tend to have a quick reaction to them, and they flush out differences in values quickly, too.

Clinton email policy violated Obama administration guidance

March 4, 2015

Even if Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state was not illegal, it violated Obama administration guidance and undermined his pledge of historic transparency.

Recommended for you

NASA's space-station resupply missions to relaunch

November 29, 2015

NASA's commercial space program returns to flight this week as one of its private cargo haulers, Orbital ATK, is to launch its first supply shipment to the International Space Station in more than 13 months.

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...


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.