Two new open access publications of potential interest. (Asterisk indicates HumEthNet member.)
UNICEF – Office of Research – Innocenti Working Paper
WP-2016-18 | June 2016 ::65 pages
What We Know about Ethical Research Involving Children in Humanitarian Settings: An overview of principles, the literature and case studies
Gabrielle Berman, Jason Hart, Dónal O’Mathúna*, Erica Mattellone, Alina Potts, Claire O’Kane, Jeremy Shusterman and Thomas Tanner
This working paper identifies and explores the issues that should be considered when undertaking ethical research involving children in humanitarian settings. Both the universal (i.e. relevant to all research involving children) and specific ethical issues that may arise when involving children in research in humanitarian settings are examined. This is undertaken through a review of the literature, relevant case studies, and a reflection on the ethical issues highlighted in UNICEF’s Procedure for Ethical Standards in Research, Evaluation, Data Collection and Analysis (the Ethics Procedure). The key findings of this overview highlight that many of the ethical issues that are present in other settings remain relevant and applicable in the context of humanitarian settings. These include: an institution’s capacity to appropriately and respectfully engage children in research, understanding power relations, securing informed consent and assent, ascertaining harms and benefits, maintaining privacy and confidentiality, and ensuring appropriate communication of findings.
The Challenge of Timely, Responsive and Rigorous Ethics Review of Disaster Research: Views of Research Ethics Committee Members
M Hunt*, CM Tansey*, J Anderson, RF Boulanger*…
Published: June 21, 2016
Research conducted following natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods or hurricanes is crucial for improving relief interventions. Such research, however, poses ethical, methodological and logistical challenges for researchers. Oversight of disaster research also poses challenges for research ethics committees (RECs), in part due to the rapid turnaround needed to initiate research after a disaster. Currently, there is limited knowledge available about how RECs respond to and appraise disaster research. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated the experiences of REC members who had reviewed disaster research conducted in low- or middle-income countries.
We used interpretive description methodology and conducted in-depth interviews with 15 respondents. Respondents were chairs, members, advisors, or coordinators from 13 RECs, including RECs affiliated with universities, governments, international organizations, a for-profit REC, and an ad hoc committee established during a disaster. Interviews were analyzed inductively using constant comparative techniques.
Through this process, three elements were identified as characterizing effective and high-quality review: timeliness, responsiveness and rigorousness. To ensure timeliness, many RECs rely on adaptations of review procedures for urgent protocols. Respondents emphasized that responsive review requires awareness of and sensitivity to the particularities of disaster settings and disaster research. Rigorous review was linked with providing careful assessment of ethical considerations related to the research, as well as ensuring independence of the review process.
Both the frequency of disasters and the conduct of disaster research are on the rise. Ensuring effective and high quality review of disaster research is crucial, yet challenges, including time pressures for urgent protocols, exist for achieving this goal. Adapting standard REC procedures may be necessary. However, steps should be taken to ensure that ethics review of disaster research remains diligent and thorough.
Conflict and Health has announced a call for papers for a special series on the ethics of health research conducted in conflict and other humanitarian settings. See Series 3) athttp://conflictandhealth.biomedcentral.com/call-for-papers.
Thank you to HumEthNet member Dónal O’Mathúna for sharing this information.