Nursing as a profession firmly depends on the ethical principles of beneficence, respect for persons, and justice. These ethical principles are the standards for the conduct of nursing studies (Manton et al., 2014). The ethical study is primary for generating evidence for nursing practice. The complex ethical regulations and codes governing studies; and the different interpretations of these codes and regulations.
Johnstone (2016) states there is no Signiant difference between the terms of ethics and morality however, Atkins et al (2014, p26) disagree, believing ethics is different than morals stating that moral principles are beliefs that a person considers ethical. Ultimately, the main message for nurses to live, work and research ethically and to follow a “good life” from which all humans can flourish emotionally, physically, morally, interpersonally psychologically, and socially (Atkinset al, 2014, p24)
One of the controversial cases happened in 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service (U.S. PHS) initiated a study of syphilis in black men in Alabama (Brandt, 1978; Reverby, 2012; Rothman, 1982). 40 years old study, was conducted to determine the course of syphilis in black men. The research subjects divided into two groups: 1st group consisted of 400 men who had untreated syphilis and the other control group of 200 men without syphilis. Most of them neither consented to participate in the study nor informed about the purpose and procedures of the research. Some of the study participants were subjected to spinal tapping and told that the procedure was to treat “bad blood” (Reverby, 2012). Untreated syphilis has devastating effects on the brain, heart, and also for pregnant women. By 1936, research results indicated that the group of men with syphilis has more complications than the control group. 1o years after, the death rate of the group with the disease was double as that of the control group. These subjects examined periodically but were never administered penicillin, even after becoming the standard treatment for the disease in the 1940s (Brandt, 1978). Published reports of the Tuskegee syphilis study first started appearing in 1936, and more papers were published every 4- 6 years. In 1953, Nurse Eunice Rivers was the first author on a publication about the study procedures to retain subjects over time (Rivers, Schuman, Simpson, & Olansky, 1953). Only then did the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has to stop the study. An investigation of the Tuskegee syphilis study found it to be unethical. In 1997.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule established the category of protected health information (PHI), which allows covering entities, such as healthcare clearinghouses, health plans, and healthcare providers that transmit health information, to use or disclose PHI to others only in some certain conditions. It applies to studies conducted in a healthcare setting that accesses PHI and studies that involve the collection of PHI (U.S. DHHS, 2010). The patient or the subject of the research has to provide his authorization, signed authorization before the PHI can be disclosed for study purposes. Any research proposal with human subjects must comply with federal regulations whether it is funded or unfunded research.