Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street, Room 108
  • November 23, 2016 from 4:10pm to 5:30pm

Speakers: Elizabeth Peter, RN, PhD, Associate Professor, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, Chair, Health Sciences Research Ethics Board, Member, Joint Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto; Judith Friedland, PhD, Chair, Ethics Review Board, Public Health Ontario, Professor Emerita, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

A growing body of empirical work suggests that there tends to be no lasting harm from studies involving ‘vulnerable’ groups. In this presentation, we will explore the history of protectionism in research and the conceptualization of risk and vulnerability. We will then describe an empirical study we conducted that identified what REBs recognize as vulnerability in research participants, and how they respond to perceived vulnerability. From these data we discovered that REBs are limited in their ability to recognize and mitigate vulnerability because of their mediated and distant view of participants, as well as the current emphasis upon regulation. We argue that participant protection may be better served with greater attention paid to the skills of researchers and research assistants and increased involvement of vulnerable participants in research processes.