Does consent make open label placebo research ethical?

By Laura Specker Sullivan Open label placebo studies hypothesize that placebos can be effective even when there is complete transparency about what participants are given. These studies are being run for conditions such as chronic pain, cancer-related fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome. Open label placebos have garnered significant interest in the popular imagination, perhaps due […]

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Do No Harm in cancer screening programmes: can consent save the day?

By Lotte Elton Screening might harm you. That isn’t what the adverts will tell you. But, increasingly, there is a growing awareness that, for some, cancer screening might lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful investigations and treatments. This seems to violate the ethical principle of non-maleficence: the injunction that doctors ‘do no harm’ to their […]

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What end of life care do we want to give to persons with end-stage dementia?

By Joseph Dimech, Emmanuel Agius, Julian C Hughes and Paul Bartolo. Dementia is a degenerative neurocognitive disorder that leads to a high level of physical and cognitive disability as the disease progresses to its end-stage. Such patients are also at high risk of suffering from co-morbidities, including aspiration pneumonia secondary to swallowing difficulties. Thus, such […]

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Would you enroll in this Covid-19 vaccine trial? — Ethical considerations for protecting the options of subjects in primary epidemic vaccine trials

By Arthur L. Caplan and Jerrold L. Abraham. We responded to the review in JME by Monrad about ethical issues in vaccine trials, in which the discussion was limited to secondary vaccine trials (i.e. testing additional vaccines after one or more vaccines have been approved). We are concerned that the ethics of ongoing primary vaccine […]

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Psychiatric patients and the decisional authority in the context of euthanasia. Is the psychiatrist a competent gatekeeper?

By Frank Schweitser In Belgium people with an incurable psychiatric disorder can file a request for euthanasia claiming unbearable psychic suffering. For the request to be accepted, it has to meet stringent legal criteria. Psychiatrists play an important role in the evaluation of these criteria. One of the legal requirements is that the patient possess […]

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Ectogenesis, medicalisation and difficulties for the doctor

By Victoria Adkins. In the literature concerning ectogenesis – the process of gestating a foetus outside of the human body (in an artificial womb) – discussions have been concerned with its possible implications for pregnant women. However, in order to consider these implications effectively we must also look at the relationship between pregnant women and […]

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Consent in an acute clinical research setting – what should that look like?

Peta Coulson-Smith and Anneke Lucassen. Consent to an intervention serves to recognise a person’s autonomy, be that in clinical care – or in the research that informs that clinical care. Consent is not valid unless it is given voluntarily, on the basis of sufficient information to make the decision, and by someone who has the […]

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Toward enhanced consent for psychedelic psychiatry

By William R Smith. and Dominic Sisti. Imagine living with treatment-resistant depression. You’ve already tried several lines of medication, electroconvulsive therapy, and psychotherapy to no avail. You might have even have used augmentation strategies such as transcranial magnetic stimulation. Maybe you have spent years of your life struggling with this disease despite these attempts; maybe […]

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Can research participants break from the chain of traditional data sharing consent?

By Vasiliki Rahimzadeh In their recent article, Mann et al. propose to share biomedical research data more widely, securely and efficiently using blockchain technologies. Used to power cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, blockchain and the wider group of distributed ledger technologies provide new ways of exchanging data, including sensitive data such as health data, in that […]

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