The Institutional Review Board is a committee that approves, monitors, and reviews research studies that involve human subjects for the purpose of protecting their (subjects) rights and welfare (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2015). In particular, the federal regulations demand that the Institutional Review Board should give special consideration to protect the welfare of vulnerable groups such as minors, prisoners, pregnant women, economically or educationally challenged people, and mentally challenged persons among others. Consistently, we identify various methods to protect the personal rights of vulnerable groups.
Firstly, it is important to note implication of vulnerability tend to lean towards careful inclusion, instead of outright exclusion of vulnerable groups. Some of the methods that can be used to protect vulnerable groups include one, considering restrictions for research with vulnerable groups. In this case, Bracken-Roche, Bell, Macdonald, & Racine (2017) point that some of the restrictions include being responsive to need, priorities, and conditions of vulnerable groups. Vulnerable groups should only be included in research if it cannot be executed with less vulnerable subjects and special justification must be provided. The second method is providing special protections for the rights of vulnerable groups. The third method is through informed consent. Vulnerable groups must be informed and consent re-confirmed when carrying out research. Researchers should not overplay the benefits of research participation and mislead vulnerable groups into participation. Groups vulnerable to coercion such as women should be provided adequate time and the right environment to make informed decision about participating in the research. In case of vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, Ketefian (2015) the amount of risk if any to the woman and the fetus should be communicated to the participants and weighed against knowledge yield before carrying out research.
Bracken-Roche, D., Bell, E., Macdonald, M. E., & Racine, E. (2017). The concept of ‘vulnerability’ in research ethics: an in-depth analysis of policies and guidelines. Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(1), 1-18.
Ketefian, S. (2015). Ethical considerations in research. Focus on vulnerable groups. Investigación Y Educación En Enfermería, 33(1), 164-172.
Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2015). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
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