Confidentiality, Disseminated Regulation and Ethico-Legal Liabilities in Research With Hidden Populations of Illicit Drug Users
Fitzgerald, John L.
Addiction. 1997 Sep; 92(9): 1099-1107.
An assurance of confidentiality is at the core of trusting relationships in outreach, ethnographic research and patient/client encounters. In the past, centralized State health care services have provided assurances of confidentiality to those engaged in health-related research either through common law or by statute. However, unless specific confidentiality legislation is in place, no assurances of confidentiality can now be made to research subjects involved in either longitudinal, interview-based or ethnographic research. The consequences of this situation become more serious given the recent emergence of the use of peer and community outreach. A significant problem with the outreach model is the failure to provide adequate legal and ethical support for those in outreach roles. Additionally, unless research subjects can be granted assurances of confidentiality, they will not engage in research for fear of later prosecution. At this time when outreach models are the modus operandi, the lack of a fundamental commitment to sustain confidentiality may seriously undermine further research. This paper will draw on the experiences of some Australian qualitative research and will review some of the ethical and legal liabilities for research that arise when an assurance of confidentiality cannot be given to those participating in research.
Behavioral Research; Confidentiality; Disclosure; Drug Abuse; Ethics; Ethics Committees; Health; Health Care; Investigators; Law; Law Enforcement; Legal Aspects; Legal Liability; Legislation; Liability; Qualitative Research; Regulation; Research; Research Ethics; Research Ethics Committees; Research Subjects; Review; Trust;
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