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    ABSTRACT: The use of charged-particle radiation therapy (CPRT) is an increasingly important development in the treatment of cancer. One of the most pressing controversies about the use of this technology is whether randomised controlled trials are required before this form of treatment can be considered to be the treatment of choice for a wide range of indications. Equipoise is the key ethical concept in determining which research studies are justified. However, there is a good deal of disagreement about how this concept is best understood and applied in the specific case of CPRT. This report is a position statement on these controversies that arises out of a workshop held at Wolfson College, Oxford in August 2011. The workshop brought together international leaders in the relevant fields (radiation oncology, medical physics, radiobiology, research ethics and methodology), including proponents on both sides of the debate, in order to make significant progress on the ethical issues associated with CPRT research. This position statement provides an ethical platform for future research and should enable further work to be done in developing international coordinated programmes of research.
    Journal of medical ethics 09/2013; 40(8). DOI:10.1136/medethics-2012-101290
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    BMJ (online) 02/2013; 346:f1163. DOI:10.1136/bmj.f1163
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    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 10/2012; 21(4):466-80. DOI:10.1017/S0963180112000242
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    ABSTRACT: The non-identity problem arises when an intervention or behavior changes the identity of those affected. Delaying pregnancy is an example of such a behavior. The problem is whether and in what ways such changes in identity affect moral considerations. While a great deal has been written about the non-identity problem, relatively little has been written about the implications for physicians and how they should understand their duties. We argue that the non-identity problem can make a crucial moral difference in some circumstances, and that it has some interesting implications for when it is or is not right for a physician to refuse to accede to a patient's request. If a physician is asked to provide an intervention (identity preserving) that makes a person worse off, then such harm provides a good reason for the physician to refuse to provide the intervention. However, in cases where different (identity-altering) interventions result in different people having a better or worse life, physicians should normally respect patient choice.
    The American Journal of Bioethics 08/2012; 12(8):21-9. DOI:10.1080/15265161.2012.692432
  • The American Journal of Bioethics 02/2012; 12(2):22-4. DOI:10.1080/15265161.2011.634955
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    ABSTRACT: Guidance requires that consent processes for research be appropriately tailored to their cultural context. This paper discusses the use of rapid assessments to identify cultural and ethical issues arising when explaining research in studies in The Gambia and Ethiopia. The assessments provided insights into appropriate ways of providing information to minimize the risk of stigmatizing vulnerable research populations; research participants' views about the most important information to provide about research and their understandings of research; and perceived constraints upon reaching voluntary decisions about participation. These insights demonstrate that rapid assessments are a relatively quick and inexpensive intervention that can provide valuable information to assist in the tailoring of information provision and consent processes to research context while maintaining and enhancing participants' fundamental protections.
    Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics 02/2012; 7(1):37-52. DOI:10.1525/jer.2012.7.1.37
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    ABSTRACT: Inequities in socio-economic and healthcare systems between developed and developing countries have been thrown into sharp relief by globalisation. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies have started conducting clinical trials in developing countries in order to reduce their costs substantially. Together, these two developments create ethical challenges for sponsors and researchers of these trials. One such challenge is that of placebo-controlled trials (PCTs). In this paper we analyse Paragraph 32 of the Declaration of Helsinki referring to PCTs, identifying ambiguities in the wording, and then examine three arguments presented by sponsors of PCTs in developing countries, in defence of such trials. These arguments are: (i) a placebo control provides a definitive answer, and is therefore methodologically superior; (ii) placebo-controlled trials are ethical because they serve the principle of utility, and (iii) interpreting the "best current proven intervention" as the local standard of care allows PCTs to be conducted, if the local standard of care is "no treatment". We argue that PCTs are not methodologically superior; nor are they ethically defensible. Other trial designs conforming to the ethics of research are feasible; the reason for conducting PCTs is expediency. We further propose that, given the global applicability of the Declaration of Helsinki, it is imperative to remove the ambiguities in Paragraph 32. In the context of collaborative trials, when a treatment exists, conducting PCTs is ethically unacceptable, irrespective of the geographic location of the trial. Universal standards ought to be applied universally.
    Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 01/2012; 9(1):13-8.
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    ABSTRACT: Making threats and offers to patients is a strategy used in community mental healthcare to increase treatment adherence. In this paper, an ethical analysis of these types of proposal is presented. It is argued (1) that the primary ethical consideration is to identify the professional duties of care held by those working in community mental health because the nature of these duties will enable a threat to be differentiated from an offer, (2) that threatening to act in a way that would equate with a failure to uphold the requirements of these duties is wrong, irrespective of the benefit accrued through treatment adherence and (3) that making offers to patients raises a number of secondary ethical considerations that need to be judged on their own merit in the context of individual patient care. The paper concludes by considering the implications of these arguments, setting out a pathway designed to assist community mental healthcare practitioners to determine whether making a specific proposal to a patient is right or wrong.
    Journal of medical ethics 12/2011; 38(4):204-9. DOI:10.1136/medethics-2011-100158
  • The American Journal of Bioethics 12/2011; 11(12):27-9. DOI:10.1080/15265161.2011.568586
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    BMJ (online) 11/2011; 343:d6900; author reply d6901. DOI:10.1136/bmj.d6900
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