Research Ethics and Validity
Research Ethics and Validity
Ethical Issues in Research
Ethical consideration is an essential aspect of a research study. This paper explains the ethical and practical concerns emerging from the process of conducting a participant observation research within an inpatient hospice. Observing the participants provided a viable and flexible data collection procedure in the hospice; however, it also led to the rise of dilemmas. Problems arose especially in obtaining informed consent from the participants and assumption that the consent was still valid after the mental and physical deterioration of patients.
In the research, Hospice staff members were interested in the participant observation since it offers a scope that helps in getting data which is a reflection of what people do and think. In the planning of the research, some of concerns were raised by the staff which was shared by several professionals who had written about ethical considerations in the conduct of research among palliative care population. The argument by the professionals is that dying patients are vulnerable both emotionally and physically and therefore their gate keeping must be especially rigorous. Several reservations have been seen on the interviews use with the professionals. The argument is that conversations may cause unnecessary exhaustion to the patients and may be impossible sometimes especially in cases of heavy sedation or patient have entered a comatose state. Hospice staff members responded to the issue was favorable since they went native to this and adopted the responsibility of an in-house volunteer to do the research and collected data through direct observation instead of the heavy-handed use of interviews. The approach enabled the hospice staff to spend enough time with patients without affecting the broader dynamics taking place in the communal areas and wards. The procedure was ethical and viable because it did not involve demanding patient’s time and emotional reserves since all could be learned through observation.
Before the conduct of the research study, informed consent was obtained from the patients. Obtaining consent is an ethical practice of the research process. However, after the permission was given issues arose on the maintenance of the consent after the admission of the patients which was the primary challenge of the study. The consent obtained on the admission date could not be taken for granted in the future interactions with the patients. Patients could quickly forget that there was research taking place and therefore the hospice staff needed to continuously ask the patients whether their information could be used for research purposes. The researchers, however, did not fully apply this approach in the process of data collection. In many cases, first consent was assumed to be enough over every encounter with the patient.
Validity can be described as the degree to which a research study measure represents the proposed measure. Validity can be external or internal. Internal validity is the credibility of the test itself and measurement while external validity is the capacity to generalize the results to the target population. Both are significant in analyzing the usefulness, meaningfulness, and appropriateness of research. Threats to internal validity include; history or the occurrences between one measure and the other, maturation, examining, instrumentation, statistical regression, subject’s selection, procedural mortality and selection-maturation interaction. On the other hand, external validity is affected by multiple treatment obstructions, the reactive result of procedural arrangements, interaction results of selection biases and procedural variable and reactive/ interaction effect of examining.
Stakeholders in healthcare research
Stakeholders can externally influence healthcare research through informing the target population about the importance of getting involved in the research project. The target population needs to be assured that the information collected from them will be treated confidentially and used only for the study. The stakeholders, therefore, have the responsibility of obtaining consent from the population under review to enhance efficient collection process. When the people are well informed, they will be ready to provide the required information for the study.
Lack of adhering to ethical issues in research such as obtaining consent can lead to bias since the participants may provide false information or in some cases no information at all. Participants need to be sure that the information they provide will be confidentially treated for them to participate in a research procedure honestly. Provision of wrong or insufficient information by the participants could affect the objectivity of the researcher by making his/her conclusions leading to a biased outcome.
(American Medical Assoc.)
DuBois JM, Chibnall JT, Tait RC, et al. Professional Decision-Making in Research (PDR): The Validity of a New Measure. Science and Engineering Ethics. 2016;22(2):391-416. doi:10.1007/s11948-015-9667-8.
(Brazilian National Standards)
DUBOIS, J. M. et al. Professional Decision-Making in Research (PDR): The Validity of a New Measure. Science And Engineering Ethics, [s. l.], v. 22, n. 2, p. 391–416, 2016. Disponível em: