Thethical Differences Of Empirical Research And Ethical Issues In Medicine

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Ethics are the moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity.

Empirical research designed to address ethical issues in medicine and biomedical research has grown enormously over the past 15 years. However, the value of ethics-related empirical research, which depends on the ethical significance of research questions and study results, has not received the careful, critical attention it deserves. The article by Joffe and Weeks (1) in this issue of the Journal highlights some of the challenges in the state-of-the-art of empirical research on ethical issues in clinical research.

The authors orient their research and interpret their findings in terms of two ethically important and related ideas: the differences between medical research and medical care and the therapeutic misconception. The ethically significant differences between clinical trials and medical care encompass the contrasting purposes of these activities, which are the topic of the authors’ study; the characteristic methods of clinical trials (e.g., randomization, double-blind conditions, use of placebos, drug washouts, treatment by protocol); and the justification of risks (2,3). Accordingly, it is valuable to understand the extent to which physician–investigators understand the important differences in purpose between clinical trials, which are devoted to generating scientific knowledge with the aim of improving treatment of future patients, and medical care, which is

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