• Nam Nguyen

      By Nam Nguyen
      Research<=> In medicine, the collation and assessment of existing facts and knowledge, and the critical systematic investigation of the normal and abnormal functioning of the body, along with the EPIDEMIOLOGY of diseases and disorders a?ecting it – the aim being to increase the sum of knowledge in respect of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Ethics of research Although Britain has had legislation governing aspects of research on animals since the 19th century, there is no over-arching statute regulating research on humans and human material. Such activity is covered in law by the vaguely de?ned common-law concept of consent, and by piecemeal legislation such as the DATA PROTECTION ACT 1998 and the HUMAN FERTILISATION & EMBRYOLOGY ACT 1990. Nevertheless, extensive and very detailed ethical guidance on aspects of research has been published by a wide range of national and international organisations (see ETHICS COMMITTEES). Several basic principles feature in all statements about research ethics: these include the importance of ensuring that research is independently and rigorously scrutinised by appropriately constituted ethics committees; verifying that any risk to the research subject is reasonable in relation to the anticipated bene?t; and ensuring that all e?orts are made to minimise possible harm. The research subject’s willingness to tolerate some risk does not relieve researchers of the responsibility of making sure that all risks are kept to a minimum. Above all, a key feature of ethical research has involved seeking informed consent from research participants. This rule, initially applied to actual involvement by human subjects in research, has gradually been extended to include seeking informed consent from patients or from their relatives to the use of data and to the use of human organs and tissue in research, including after POST-MORTEM EXAMINATION. (See also EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE.)