Presenter Information

Brianne Helfrich, Department of Center for Global Health Ethics

Abstract

Pediatric research in medicine is a widely debated topic on ethical and moral principles. In this paper, the reasoning behind the importance of general medical research will be explored. The risks and benefits associated with medical research will be discussed, as these are topics that can persuade an individual into participating. The first section of this paper will also emphasize the importance of the COVID-19 research and ethical conflicts associated with it. Being in a global pandemic, this research has provided society with many benefits regarding diagnosis of disease, vaccines, and treatments. Exploring the COVID-19 research will provide readers with a real-life scenario of the benefits of participating in medical research. However, it will also emphasize the risks associated with human trials. The moral imperative of pediatric research will be explored. We will discuss how we ought to conduct pediatric research and why it is imperative it be conducted. In this paper, the difference between pediatric assent and consent will be distinguished. Within pediatric healthcare, the bioethical principle of autonomy is heavily discussed. Ethical concerns surrounding pediatric patients participating in medical research stems from their ability, or lack thereof, for consent. Many argue that pediatric patients, especially mature minors, should have the ability to make their own decisions regarding their participation in research projects. In the case where a patient is unable to provide assent or consent, surrogate decision makers and their ability to be decisional will be evaluated. The example of the COVID-19 vaccine for minors will be presented. This paper will discuss common ethical concerns for utilizing pediatric patients in research. The respect for the child’s privacy, child protection and nonmaleficence (“do no harm”) to the patient are commonly argued as factors against pediatric research. Finally, the last section of this paper will discuss proposed future research studies to gain more insight into the reasoning why children debate participating in studies, and why parents may or may not provide their consent.

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Advisor

Joris Gielen, PhD

Submission Type

Paper

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The Ethical Justification of Research in Pediatric Healthcare with an Emphasis on the COVID-19 Vaccine

Pediatric research in medicine is a widely debated topic on ethical and moral principles. In this paper, the reasoning behind the importance of general medical research will be explored. The risks and benefits associated with medical research will be discussed, as these are topics that can persuade an individual into participating. The first section of this paper will also emphasize the importance of the COVID-19 research and ethical conflicts associated with it. Being in a global pandemic, this research has provided society with many benefits regarding diagnosis of disease, vaccines, and treatments. Exploring the COVID-19 research will provide readers with a real-life scenario of the benefits of participating in medical research. However, it will also emphasize the risks associated with human trials. The moral imperative of pediatric research will be explored. We will discuss how we ought to conduct pediatric research and why it is imperative it be conducted. In this paper, the difference between pediatric assent and consent will be distinguished. Within pediatric healthcare, the bioethical principle of autonomy is heavily discussed. Ethical concerns surrounding pediatric patients participating in medical research stems from their ability, or lack thereof, for consent. Many argue that pediatric patients, especially mature minors, should have the ability to make their own decisions regarding their participation in research projects. In the case where a patient is unable to provide assent or consent, surrogate decision makers and their ability to be decisional will be evaluated. The example of the COVID-19 vaccine for minors will be presented. This paper will discuss common ethical concerns for utilizing pediatric patients in research. The respect for the child’s privacy, child protection and nonmaleficence (“do no harm”) to the patient are commonly argued as factors against pediatric research. Finally, the last section of this paper will discuss proposed future research studies to gain more insight into the reasoning why children debate participating in studies, and why parents may or may not provide their consent.