Ethical Process in Human Research Published in Thoracic Surgery Journals

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Background: Media reports of ethical transgressions in research with human subjects have increasingly focused attention on clinical investigators and have served to undermine public confidence in medical research. A series of editorials in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery and The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in 2002 and 2003 emphasized integrity in research publication. We investigated the extent to which the ethical process was mentioned in reports of thoracic surgical research with human subjects since 2002. Methods: We reviewed all reports of research involving human subjects published in these journals during the first 6 months of 2002, the first 6 months of 2003, and the last 6 months of 2004 (n = 273, 291 and 288 for each time period, respectively with a total of 852). Results: Ethical process was mentioned in 346 of 852 (41%) investigations. Comparing US and non-US studies, the rates of mentioning ethical process for prospective studies were 76 of 83 (92%) and 178 of 216 (82%), respectively, and for retrospective studies were 75 of 220 (34%) and 18 of 334 (5%), respectively. Between 2002 and 2004, the rates of mentioning ethical process for prospective studies increased from 79 of 101 (78%) to 80 of 89 (90%), and for retrospective studies it increased from 17 of 172 (10%) to 59 of 199 (30%). Conclusions: There was a significant increase in mention of ethical process from early 2002 to late 2004; however, documentation of appropriate ethical process in human research published in cardiothoracic journals remains less than ideal. The main burden of ensuring ethical process in human investigations rests with researchers, their institutions, and institutional review boards; however, editors can help rectify this problem by requiring adherence to national and international standards in the human subjects' research studies they publish. In adhering to ethical standards, investigators respect the research subjects' right of self-determination and foster public confidence in human research. © 2006 The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.




Block, M. I., Khitin, L. M., & Sade, R. M. (2006). Ethical Process in Human Research Published in Thoracic Surgery Journals. Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 82(1), 6–12.

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