The Protection of Human Research Participants
There has been a dramatic change in the issues in regard to the protection of human research participants during the past thirty years. With the onset and realization of human rights on an increasing basis, the scientific community has become very protective in regard to the well-being and safety of those who participate in research activities. It is now outside the purview of scientific practices to indulge in any kind of coercive practices to make people into opting to serve as participants in research activities whether it is for the purpose of getting credits in course work or forgetting other incentives.
There are a number of human research activities that now fall under the categories of newly introduced federal privacy rules that require the fulfillment of certain minimum criteria for enlisting the services for human research. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 strictly requires adherence to privacy provisions in issuing standards that address the information transmitted in regard to health and the privacy of medical information that is personally identifiable. The safety of research participants is an important concern since financial interests that are related to the enlistment of the participants can encourage researchers to ignore the exclusion and inclusion criteria, thus disrespecting the participants in addition to putting their life at risk.
It is in this context that regulatory measures taken in North America have led to such research activities to be shifted to underdeveloped countries where it is cheaper to enlist participants as also where the regulations are not stringent and not always enforced to carry out the work. It is however worrisome since participants in these countries are more vulnerable to the vagaries of the ill effects of the research activities.