Rules on protecting people in social and behavioral studies need to be revised, says US panel

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 10 January 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g147
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Current rules governing research involving human participants in the United States should be revised to take into account the differences between risks posed by biomedical research and those posed by most social and behavioral research studies, says an expert panel convened by the National Research Council.

The council commissioned the panel to advise the Department of Health and Human Services, which is currently updating the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, the regulation that governs human research in the US and that is often referred to as the “Common Rule.”

The revisions suggested by the panel would cover research typically conducted in such fields as anthropology, cognitive sciences, political science, psychology, social work, and health services research.

The study was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, and the National Academy of Education. Susan Fiske, professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University, chaired the panel.

Unlike biomedical research, which can often pose a risk of physical harm …

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