Ethical review of research in developing countries needed

Developing countries need to more thoroughly review the research ethics of studies being conducted in their country, but sponsored by other, more developed countries, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In one of the first studies of its kind, the researchers looked into the controversy surrounding institutional review board examination of studies and the ethics of biomedical research sponsored by wealthy nations, but conducted in resource-poor countries. The study, "Ethical Review of Health Research: A perspective from developing country researchers" is published in the February 2004, issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Lead author, Adnan A. Hyder, MD, MPH, PhD, an assistant professor and the Leon Robertson Faculty Development Chair in the School's Department of International Health, said, "Concerns about the potential exploitation of resource-deprived countries have emerged with the increase in research collaboration between industrialized and developing countries. Our study highlights the great need for further thinking and dialogue on research conducted in the developing world and funded by high income countries. There is also a critical need for research ethics capacity development in the developing world."

The study authors surveyed 203 health researchers from developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America about their concerns and opinions regarding ethical review processes and the performance of developing countries and U.S. institutional review boards. A majority of the study participants were male, senior researchers who conduct research on a part-time basis. The questionnaire addressed issues regarding institutional review boards, informed consent and tested specific recommendations with respondents.

Forty-four percent of the survey respondents said that their studies were not reviewed by a developing country's institutional review board or Ministry of H

Contact: Kenna L. Brigham
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

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