Procedural Proportionality of Ethical Review

By David Hunter

In an excellent paper published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics Gefenas et al make the point that types of research which impose similar burdens of risks and harms appear to be being regulated disproportionately at the moment in the Baltic States.

This is largely due to EU legislation which enforces the relatively stringent regulation of specific research types such as clinical trials, but neglects other areas of research such as social sciences research.

I’ve argued against proportionality of review as a narrow principle focused on individual research projects but it does seem more defensible as a wider procedural principle of regulation.

And it is worth noting this isn’t an issue confined to the Baltic states, most EU countries (and indeed countries outside the EU) face it. But what can be done about it? I’d suggest as unpopular as the suggestion is the only way to effectively deal with it is to pass legislation which regulates all research.

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