In the present day, according to international standards, all human subjects should be obligatorily protected in the case of their participation in research. However, the guiding principles of ethics and humanity in this sphere were seriously corrupted in the past. “Caring corrupted: The killing nurses of the Third Reich” addresses one of the most horrible periods in the history of nursing and research activity – the Holocaust (Cizik School of Nursing, 2016). The most appealing point of this documentary is that people were killed and unwillingly involved in life-threatening research on the basis of the state’s policies. Hitler stated that disabled people and people of particular races do not deserve to live and may be used as expendable materials for science (Cizik School of Nursing, 2016). The importance of this point is determined by its total unacceptability from the position of morality and ethics. All people involved in research as its subjects should be provided with a right of choice and should give their consent. In addition, subjects should not be chosen on the basis of race or health conditions unless it is important for the study’s purpose.
“Research ethics involving human subjects” also mentions inhuman medical experiments of Nazi Germany that aimed to examine and improve a human ability to survive. At the same time, the main point the documentary addresses is the establishment of the Nuremberg Code in 1948 after World War II (Daigle, 2014). The importance of this set is obvious as it was the first international statement that defined the fundamental principles of the ethical conduct of research that involves human subjects (Daigle, 2014).
Unfortunately, these principles were not followed continuously worldwide – thus, new violations lead to the creation of new regulations as stated in “The Belmont Report (Part one: Basic ethical principles).” This documentary describes the main ethical principles of the Belmont Report – respect for persons, beneficence, and justice (irbmed, 2011a). In general, their importance is based on the general equality and value of all human subjects regardless of their gender, age, race, health condition, education, and socioeconomic status. For instance, according to new regulations, in the process of research, all risks and merits are equally distributed while in the past, poor people were intentionally exposed to potentially dangerous interventions to improve treatment for rich community members (irbmed, 2011a).
“The Belmont Report (Part two: Applying the principles)” addresses three main areas of ethical principles’ application- informed consent, riskbenefit ratio, and the selection of human subjects (irbmed, 2011b). In general, this documentary may be regarded as the summary of a basic ethical approach that should be used by researchers in relation to human subjects. Thus, for any experiment, all risks and benefits should be initially evaluated, participants should be chosen unbiasedly, and they should be informed of the intervention, its potential risks, and benefits to freely accept or refuse to participate. From the personal perspective, informed consent is the most important part of research taking into consideration multiple cases in human history when people were involved in cruel experiments against their will.
Finally, “Guiding principles of Institutional Review Boards (IRB)” introduces IRB as an independent committee that aims to ensure that the proposed methods of any research are ethical in relation to human subjects (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2015). The most important point concerning IRB is its structure and performance – it includes men and women of different ages, scientists and non-scientists, who gather to discuss whether ethical principles of research will be followed. This approach guarantees unbiased agreement that interventions are regarded as ethical from all perspectives.
Cizik School of Nursing. (2016). Caring corrupted: The killing nurses of the Third Reich [Video]. YouTube.
Daigle, D. (2014). Research ethics involving human subjects [Video]. YouTube.
irbmed. (2011a). The Belmont Report (Part one: Basic ethical principles) [Video]. YouTube.
irbmed. (2011b). The Belmont Report (Part two: Applying the principles) [Video]. YouTube.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2015). Guiding principles of Institutional Review Boards (IRB) [Video]. YouTube.