Should Children Be Enrolled in Clinical Research in Conflict Zones?

Should Children Be Enrolled in Clinical Research in Conflict Zones?
Case and Commentary
Dónal O’Mathúna, Nawaraj Upadhaya
AMA Journal of Ethics, June 2022
This commentary examines 4 ethical issues in a case of clinicians considering conducting research on children in conflict zones: (1) whether any time or resources should be taken away from treating acute injuries in order to conduct research; (2) obtaining consent for children to participate in research, which is particularly challenging given that children can be separated from parents or guardians; (3) whether the research is feasible at the moment, since starting research that stands little chance of being completed is ethically questionable; and (4) maintaining neutrality, impartiality, and humanity. Research that puts participants and researchers at risk of additional harm must be considered carefully. Here, we propose that both research and clinical care might occur simultaneously when researchers engage humbly with involved communities as the research is being designed, conducted, and reported in order to understand and resolve ethical issues involved.

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