Ethics Guidelines, Health Research and Indigenous Australians
New Zealand Bioethics Journal 2003 February; 4(1): 20-29
In this paper we overview the findings of a literature review that was undertaken to guide the revision of the Guidelines on Ethical Matters in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (NH&MRC, 1991). The literature reviewed, in general, supported the development of specific research guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contexts. The findings of this review were analysed thematically, and a number of key issues were identified for consideration in the review process. We present a summary of these key issues. In the final section of the paper we consider in more detail two of the key issues raised in the review process (the assessment of relevance or benefit of proposed research; and the process of consultation and negotiation of collective consent) in order to critically consider how these issues should be engaged in revised guidelines. On the basis of this analysis, it is our contention that specific guidelines on key issues are limited to the extent to which they can anticipate all possible research contexts. In order to address this problem, and guide researchers, guidelines should also explicitly outline the values, from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective that are foundational to an ethical research process.
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