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Research and Evaluation in Health

Ethics are very important in every research as they restrict the researchers from doing mistakes while collecting their facts, information, knowledge, or truth. It also helps in developing some important values in the researcher and since in research, many experts are involved that come from diverse backgrounds (Ehni & Wiesing, 2019). So, these ethics help in binding all those together by considering the essential values such as mutual respect, coordination, cooperation, accountability, and fairness among others. According to Kwaymullina (2016), the Declaration of Helsinki is a set of ethical principles that were developed by the World Medical Association (WMA) for the medical community for human experiments. It included some ethics and values like consent, respect, justice, and a few others, which should be included, while experimentation in humans. This essay will discuss the Tearoom Trade Study, its aims, methodologies, and the four values that were missed by the researcher with their impact on participants.

The aim of the Tearoom Trade Study was to explore the activities of men who are in search of quick anonymous sex in public washrooms (tearooms). The objective of this study is to study homosexual encounters in public places and mainly it is an analysis of sexual behavior of male-male behavior in public toilets. The research design - a quantitative survey in which the participants were randomly taken (to avoid biases) who are near and outside the toilets (tearoom), the author interacted with them, gained their trust, recorded the license plate numbers of his participants and later visited their homes for questions, and also interviewed some men. He interviewed the participants and asked them to question that is as follows: what they want when they want, what happens inside the tearoom, and others. He also asked them about their marital status, race, job, and so on.

His research strategies provided him with comprehensive, intimate, and detailed data on the social, behavior, lifestyles, and other characteristics of tearoom participants. He also used his data to explore/interpret the social cues like hand language, body language, and others, used by the participants. His findings eliminated many stereotypes and he found that many of the subjects were married, some were neither bisexual nor homosexual, few were bisexual and some were happily married bisexuals. His research outcomes helped the police department to stop arresting such victimless individuals as many counted this research as a social benefit. Later it was found that this research study invaded the participants’ privacy and unethically conduction of data collection as many ethical values were not maintained.

This study did not maintain the respect value of the participants during the research. In this case study, the right of respect of the participants was violated because the researcher did not ask the participants for their consent to accept or rejects to be a part in the experimentation study, he asked a very private question like what they did inside tearoom, how they did the act and many others. There was no voluntary participation, no informed consent, and the participants were also not provided with the right to quit from the study, thereby, indicating that their dignity was also not respected. They were treated as experimentation models despite being treated as respectable individuals. According to Connor et al. (2018), individuals have the right to feel protected and respected if they are chosen as participants in any research study for data collection. It is also taken or considered as a right of the participant to have ensured privacy, dignity, confidentiality, anonymous, informed consent, and treated without any harm until the completion of the research study. It should be ensured that the participants get complete cultural respect with empowerment to be a part of the experiment and withdraw at any moment they feel to do so without any penalty. It is the right of the participant to know about the research before becoming part of the research but this was not maintained in this case. This is so because the researcher started observing the participants without informing them about his intentions. Such acts of the researcher make the participants feel distressed, disrespected, and harmed (Rahimzadeh & Knoppers, 2016).

This study did not maintain research merit and integrity values during the research. According to Savulescu (2018), no research is ethically justifiable until and unless it has merit and integrity values. When factors like dishonesty and others weaken the validity of the research outcomes or results, it is then considered that the research did not uphold such values. Moreover, the objection or methodology should be appropriate to achieve the aim of the study. As in this case, the methods used by the researcher was not appropriate because he was silently observing the participants without their consent and asking them very private questions as well. The researcher’s method was also not appropriate because he unlawfully took the license plate numbers from the participants and also visited their homes without their consent and without informing them at later stages of the study to get more knowledge. As no respect for the participants was maintained and the method used were also not appropriate, these indicated that the researcher failed to up-hold the research merit and integrity in the study. According to Shrestha & Dunn (2019), if the research has the following points then only it is considered as a study with research merit and integrity – based on current literature, use of appropriate resources or methodology, respect all the participants, and justifiable by potential benefits.

This study did not maintain the justice values of the participants during the research. In this study, the rights of the participants like privacy, confidentiality, and many others were violated that raised the question of justice. As this study, discussed homosexuality if the information was disclosed then it might have harmed the happy life of the participant. If any disclosure occurred then it might have harmed the participants psychologically and legally. It should always be ensured that the difference between what is morally right and what is wrong is maintained while collecting the data or carrying out any research (De Smit et al., 2016). However, in this study of the tearoom trade study, the researcher started asking the extremely private question to the participants, and many others. There was the exploitation of the participants during the data collection in this study.

This is so because if any of the individuals will be asked about how they had the intimate moments with their partner, what they did, about their hand movements, and others, these questions make the participant feel ashamed, exploited, and a feeling of injustice. The principle of justice states that there should be fairness in the decisions with fairly equal distribution of treatments and resources, and the medical practitioners should uphold applicable legislation and laws while making choices. In every research, justice is maintained by initially choosing the participants based on study needs rather than convenience (De Smit et al., 2016). However, in this study the author chose to sit in public places like near public toilets or public parks, as these areas were easily accessible for him, indicating that he chose to opt for participants based on his convenience. He chose to sit in the public places to observe the participants from distance at first and then asked private questions from them.

This study did not maintain the beneficence value of the participants during the research. Beneficence means the subject will not be harmed and the study will yield into something good. 

According to Wynn (2019), research should have beneficence so that it upholds the social, mental, and physical well-being of the participants. There should be no risk to the participants, participants should feel discomfort, participants should be told about the benefits and risks of the study. However, in this case, no such points were met, and neither the participant was told about the risks of the study nor they were informed about the study. As the researcher also visited their homes in later stages to get more knowledge and if at those times the partner of the participant gets to know about the tearoom acts of his/her partner, then it could harm the personal life of the participant. Thereby, indicating that there were a great risk and harm to the participants in this study and the study failed to uphold the value of beneficence. The principle of beneficence states that the research design should be scientifically sound and there should be potential monitoring if the adverse effects of the study on the participants (Yip et al., 2019). However, no such monitoring was performed in this study for the participants. Thus, this study led to realize the need for ethics in research in future research studies.

This study impacted the participants and established many boundaries and guidelines for potential participants in future research studies. This study revealed the secret activities of the participants that generated public stigma, the participants’ consent was not taken during this study, participants were interviewed in disguise, and many other ethical values were not maintained. So, this led to the establishment of the ethical guidelines to be maintained in future researches when the researcher takes humans as a subject for their experiments. The principles like autonomy, confidentiality, consent, no harm or stigmatization, and many other points are kept in mind by the researcher for any human experiments or studies (Andriessen et al., 2019). Moreover, with this study, it was realized that the methodology and participants of the study are the major part that needs to be given prime importance and attention so that there is no harm, risks, disrespect, unethically or uncultured treatments, and other inappropriate behavior with them.

There are some ethics and values like privacy, beneficence, integrity, consent, respect, justice, and a few others, which should be included, while research experimentation on humans. The tearoom trade study used inappropriate methodology and did not uphold ethical values and led to realize the fact that the future researches should ensure that they uphold all the research ethics and principle values. It is a right of the participant to have ensured privacy, dignity, confidentiality, anonymous, informed consent, and treated without any harm in a research study. A research study should uphold research merit and integrity to ensure that appropriate methodology is used that ensures the participant’s respect, safety, and dignity. A research study justice and beneficence ensures that there is no exploitation of the participants during the data collection and participants are benefits with proper monitoring of the adverse effects of the study on them. The tearoom trade study analysis was done based on the major four values that are beneficence, research merit and integrity, justice that assisted in the deep analysis of this study.

References for Research Ethics and Values

Andriessen, K., Reifels, L., Krysinska, K., Robinson, J., Dempster, G., & Pirkis, J. (2019). Ethical concerns in suicide research: Results of an international researcher survey. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics14(4), 383-394. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1556264619859734

Connor, J., Copland, S., & Owen, J. (2018). The infantilized researcher and research subject: Ethics, consent and risk. Qualitative Research18(4), 400-415. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1468794117730686

De Smit, E., Kearns, L. S., Clarke, L., Dick, J., Hill, C. L., & Hewitt, A. W. (2016). Heterogeneity of human research ethics committees and research governance offices across Australia: An observational study. The Australasian Medical Journal9(2), 33. https://dx.doi.org/10.4066%2FAMJ.2015.2587

Ehni, H. J., & Wiesing, U. (2019). Illegitimate authorship and flawed procedures: Fundamental, formal criticisms of the Declaration of Helsinki. Bioethics33(3), 319-325. https://doi.org/10.1111/bioe.12503

Kwaymullina, A. (2016). Research, ethics and indigenous peoples: An Australian indigenous perspective on three threshold considerations for respectful engagement.  International Journal of Indigenous Peoples12(4), 437-449. https://doi.org/10.20507%2FAlterNative.2016.12.4.8

Rahimzadeh, V., & Knoppers, B. M. (2016). How mutually recognizable is mutual recognition? Personalized Medicine, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.2217/pme.15.52

Savulescu, J. (2018). The structure of ethics review: Expert ethics committees and the challenge of voluntary research euthanasia. Journal of Medical Ethics44(7), 491-493. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2015-103183

Shrestha, B., & Dunn, L. (2019). The declaration of Helsinki on medical research involving human subjects: A review of seventh revision. Journal of Nepal Health Research Council17(4), 548-552. Retrieved from: http://103.69.125.201/index.php/jnhrc/article/view/767

Wynn, L. L. (2016). The impact of ethics review on a research-led university curriculum: Results of a qualitative study in Australia. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics11(2), 180-190. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1556264616636234

Yip, C., Han, N. L. R., & Sng, B. L. (2016). Legal and ethical issues in research. Indian Journal of Anaesthesia60(9), 684. https://dx.doi.org/10.4103%2F0019-5049.190627

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