The Importance Of Observational Studies

1605 Words7 Pages
Observational studies have inherent value in obtaining knowledge of the progression and prognosis of disease without interventions. There are two types of observational studies, prospective studies which follow a patient through the progression of their disease and retrospective studies which study data collected from patient histories and previous studies (Helmchen, 2011, pg 175). Observational studies must be carefully considered due to the potential for exploitation of subjects, as most do not provide immediate benefits to the individual, rather the benefits are bestowed on the community. Cases such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study which denied poor, illiterate African-American men treatment for syphilis in order to study the natural progression of the disease, highlight ethical failures and provide guidance for future conditions and protocols to be implemented. I will review the protocols of medical ethics and apply these guidelines to the conditions that must be applied to observational studies of disease. I will use the studies of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) which examines the effects of the exposure of individuals to the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 as an example for conducting ethical observation research. Further, I will explore the situations in which observational studies are ethically compatible and in which the benefits outweigh the risks. Research involving human participants must be subject to strong protocols that guide
Get Access