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2016 Conference

Abstract Number: E-04 | ID: 4749

Did The Lack of Early Ethical Deliberation Contribute to the Downfall of The American Childhood Cohort?

Raymond Neutra*, Neutra Consulting, United States, raymondneutra@gmail.com;
Branches of science such as astrophysics that aim only at accumulating knowledge for knowledge's sake, have ethical issues that pertain only to telling the truth. Public health research additionally aims at gathering information that will guide public health policy for the public good. Ideally such research ought to consider what new knowledge would produce the most good for the most people at the least cost. This is a Utilitarian ethical issue. One might also consider what new knowledge would support policies for social justice. That would be part of Duty Ethics. In actual practice this kind of early deliberation is rarely done. Instead, when a request for proposal goes out, researchers send in proposals from their own area of expertise, packaging it in such away, that seems relevant to the request. Each relevant scientific discipline has a worldview interest, a career interest and a financial interest to see that it's way of looking at a problem should get the lion's share of a limited research budget. All too often research strategy then becomes the result of political struggle between representatives of different academic disciplines and centers. There are ethical issues in how this struggle is conducted. However an "honorable" balancing of academic interests doesn't necessarily result in a study design that optimally serves the greatest public good. Was this at work in the child cohort studies? If so how might the governance of the design and conduct of such large multidisciplinary studies be structured to improve this situation?