Have you got consent? An overview of human research ethics for East Asian medicine

Nova Science Publishers
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Traditional Medicine: New Research, 2012, 1, pp. 225 - 238
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During the last four decades the requirement of a committee to oversee the ethical concerns of human research has become an integral part of the research process [1]. This review process is well established in many western countries such as the United States of America, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia and more recently in many Asian countries as well [2]. Indeed many countries have produced guidelines and developed national networks to deal with research governance and the oversight of human clinical research. These committees are known as Institutional Review Boards (IRB) in the United States of America, or Research Ethics Committees (REC) as occurs in the United Kingdom. Their role is to ensure the protection of the welfare and rights of all participants in research [3], not only clinical research but also other types of research methodologies that involve humans such as surveys, interviews and focus groups. Generally there has been little interest in the ethical issues involved in conducting research into East Asian medicine (EAM) and in some respects this may have impeded the development of clinical evidence [4]. This chapter will discuss the principles of ethical research and how these can impact on the design and conduct of clinical EAM research. Arguments to address some common ethical concerns for EAM research will also be suggested and these will be helpful to those new to EAM research as well as those more experienced. Finally extracts from the latest version of the Helsinki Declaration (2008) [5] will be used to highlight some of the ethical requirements of human research and offer direction for some ethical challenges.
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