Ethical Dilemma in Nursing Research


Research has commonly been used in nursing to enhance the stand of care provided to patients in different categories. Actually, there is an ongoing need for effective research evidence to influence the standards of patient care. In this regard, research in nursing has turned into a common practice. However, it has been debated that all research can be possibly harmful to researchers and participants especially in the medical field (Bowrey & Thompson, 2014). For instance, controlled trials which evaluate new drugs via aggressive procedures can cause harm unintentionally. Similarly, naturalistic enquiries which find evidence regarding sensitive subjects can cause unintentional emotional stress and possible damage to participants. Therefore, researchers in the medical field have always been faced with a number of ethical dilemmas while making decisions regarding their research procedures in the field Royal College of Nurse (2009). Similar to a number of medical researches, nursing researches normally involve human subjects to attain their goals. In most case, the participants are normally patients undergoing one form of clinical care or another. Therefore, observation of research ethics is very critical since the human subject must be protected as required by the law. However, making ethical decision in nursing research is normally not very easy. This paper focuses on evaluating ethical dilemmas that are common in nursing research

Ethical Dilemma in Nursing Research

The two major ethical dilemmas associated with nursing research include the informed consent dilemma and benefice –do not harm. Informed consent is considered as the main ethical issues while conducting a research. It implies that an individual intelligently, voluntarily and knowingly, and in a manifest and clear way gives consent to take part in the research. Informed consent focuses on incorporating the autonomous individuals’ right via self-determination. It as well tries to prevent assaults on the patient’s integrity and safeguard personal veracity and liberty (Bowrey & Thompson, 2014). The informed consent demands that the researcher should explain benefits and risks of the research, the purpose of the study, and the procedures to be followed. It also demands description on dignity threat, any privacy inversion, physical discomfort or harm, and how the participants will be compensated in case any of the above harm happens. Finally, the participants must also be informed of the freedom to withdraw from the research at any given time without offering any explanation (Fouka & Mantzorou, 2011).

The informed consent requirements create an ethical dilemma since all this information given to the potential participant may discourage them from volunteering to take part in critical researches. Moreover, the provision of so much information to the participants may make them alter their behavior when they are sure that they are observed and thus, this may interfere with the validity of the results. In addition, the withdrawal freedom may interfere with the results validity especially if it takes place at an advanced research stage. However, personal interest is always given a higher priority as compared to the community interest based on the informed consent principle (Cabanto & Padua, 2013).

Beneficence is an ethical principle that demands that the research should of benefit to the community, researcher and the participants without harming anyone. Beneficence principles include the mandate of professional to do significant and effective research in order to promote and better serve the constituents welfare. According to Fouka and Mantzorou (2011), sometimes, it is hard to predict beneficence when developing research hypothesis, particularly qualitative research. In this case, if the results of a research prove to be less beneficial as they were anticipated, the situation can raise vast ethical issues particularly for nurses. Basically the researcher is supposed to evaluate possible harms and benefits of a research, establish ways to minimize harms and maximize the benefits. However, in a situation where the research harms out ways the benefits, the research should be revised. This creates a huge dilemma especially when the research is considered necessary and the alteration of the research will interfere with the actual research goals.

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