Two ethical principles that apply to research and could benefit from revision in the future are:
Informed Consent (APA Ethical Code 8.02):
Current Principle: Informed consent requires researchers to provide participants with clear and comprehensive information about the study’s purpose, procedures, risks, and benefits, allowing them to make an informed decision about participating.
Proposed Revision: While informed consent is crucial, the language used in consent forms and explanations can sometimes be overly complex, leading to misunderstanding. A revision could involve simplifying the language without compromising essential information. This would ensure that participants fully understand the study’s implications.
Reason for Change: Simplifying the language in informed consent forms would enhance participants’ comprehension, thus upholding the principle of autonomy and respect for persons. This change would align with the spirit of informed consent, making it more accessible to diverse populations, including those with varying levels of education.
Beneficence and Non-Maleficence (APA Ethical Code 8.04):
Current Principle: This principle emphasizes the researcher’s responsibility to maximize benefits and minimize potential harm to participants. Researchers are required to weigh the benefits of research against potential risks carefully.
Proposed Revision: The revision could involve a more explicit focus on long-term potential harm, especially in studies involving sensitive topics or vulnerable populations. Researchers could be required to conduct follow-up assessments to ensure that participants haven’t experienced any adverse effects after the study concludes.
Reason for Change: While the current principle addresses immediate harm, considering long-term effects aligns with a more comprehensive understanding of potential harm. This would enhance the protection of participants, especially in studies where emotional or psychological distress might manifest later.
These proposed revisions would help modernize these ethical principles in research to reflect better the evolving landscape of research methods and participant needs. They aim to improve the clarity and comprehensibility of informed consent materials while also extending the focus on minimizing harm to include potential long-term consequences. These changes would ultimately enhance participants’ understanding, autonomy, and well-being.