An American student in the Department of Sociology at NYU who is fluent in Croatian proposes a study for her doctoral dissertation in which she will explore the aftereffects of the civil war during a six month stay in that country.
She believes that participants may not involve themselves to the fullest extent if they realize she is attached to an American university since anti-American feelings run high in the community in which she intends to live.
Since her work is being conducted outside of the US, the researcher feels that she does not have to follow strictly the guidelines established by the UCAIHS.
In fact, she has already started the study by enlisting peers in Croatia to begin conducting interviews on her behalf. The information obtained in these interviews will be used as a basis for the second round of interviews that she will conduct herself when she arrives in Croatia.
Should the investigator continue with her research as planned?
Foreign governments vary in their approach to research ethics. The Council of Europe, for example, developed guidelines in 1985 which were further reinforced by those published by the European Union in 1990. In addition, recent collaborative efforts between the World Health Organization and the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences have resulted in proposed international guidelines for human subjects research that could be used in many areas of the world.
These guidelines mainly reflect those principles expressed in the Declaration of Helsinki.
Common to all the guidelines are:
Recent issuances from world organizations also emphasize the special consideration which is needed when research is conducted by investigators from more developed countries on human subjects in less developed countries and that informed consent needs to be obtained in a way that is sensitive to the particular culture and to the potential for exploiting the subjects.
When the Federal government funds international research, it requires that the procedures prescribed by the study offer protections that are at least equivalent to those provided in the US.
Next Chapter: What types of decisions can the UCAIHS make?