Disaster Research Ethics (DRE)

Link to the video on the HumEthNet YouTube Channel here.


Research in disasters can lead to improvements in humanitarian relief efforts and better understanding of how disasters impact populations. Recent increased emphasis on disaster research has spurred expanded discussion regarding the ethical implications of this field of inquiry. Disaster research, especially in low resources settings, is associated with a range of distinctive ethical features including heightened vulnerability, insecurity and instability, need for rapid response, and challenges to distinguish practice from research, amongst others. However, there remains uncertainty regarding processes and approaches related to research ethics in disaster research, and how ethical issues are experienced by disaster researchers and understood by research ethics committee members. This research project aimed to address these gaps. 

The research study included three primary lines of inquiry: 

  1. A systematic assessment of the disaster research literature; 
  2. Interviews with members of Research Ethics Committees ; and 
  3. Interviews with disaster researchers. 

This research was funded by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Santé. Project summary (PDF version)

Team members 

James Anderson, Anant Bhan, Renaud Boulanger, Anushree Davé, Lisa Eckenwiler, Matthew Hunt, John Pringle, Lisa Schwartz, Catherine Tansey  

DRE research project citation:

Hunt, Matthew,  Lisa Schwartz, Lisa Eckenwiler, James Anderson, Anant Bhan, Renaud Boulanger, John Pringle, Catherine Tansey, Anushree Dave. “Investigation of the ethics of disaster research in low & middle income countries (LMICs).” CIHR