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From The CriticsReviewer: Michael S. Goldsby, PhD, CCRP (Family Psychiatry of The Woodlands)
Description: The protection of human subjects for the purpose of scientific research presents a unique set of legal and ethical complications, especially when the research is done on high-risk populations. Study populations who are susceptible to suicide, violence, and child abuse are considered to be high risk, and collecting study data on this population requires a delicate balancing of ethics and law. Through the clinical research and legal experience of luminary chapter authors, this timely book presents numerous case studies in field-based research regarding the moral and legal obligation researchers have to disclose threats of violence disclosed by study participants. This book presents the legal and ethical ramifications of working with this research population and offers real-life examples of approaches that work.
Purpose: According to the editors, this book is intended to provide in-depth analysis and guidance to social scientists on the ethical and legal responsibilities that may arise in the course of conducting research with these high-risk populations and in responding appropriately to threats of harm that may arise during the course of data collection. The intent also is to elucidate the complexities inherent in conducting research on these populations by providing readers with real-life examples through case studies in field-based research.
Audience: This book will be most beneficial to researchers who conduct studies on high-risk populations. The target audience includes institutional review board members and professionals in the fields of psychology, sociology, and criminology, as well as public and mental health practitioners. Graduate students in clinical psychology and related academic disciplines also will gain a tremendous amount of insight and understanding into the reality of conducting research on high risk populations.
Features: The basic theme of the book is best expressed in the question, "When does the threat of harm justify disclosing information offered under assurances of protecting the study participant's confidentiality?" The chapter authors are leading researchers, lawyers, ethics professionals, and IRB members who attempt to answer that question by presenting their unique experiences which illustrate the inherent complexities of the issues involved in conducting this kind of research. Through the examples presented in case studies, the authors highlight the ongoing ethical and legal balance necessary in research with high-risk populations where moral and legal obligations are often presented in terms of when to keep information confidential and under what circumstances to disclose confidential information for the protection of the study participant or others. The book is organized into four parts covering ethical and legal issues, research methodologies, the clinician's response to immediate threats of violence, and a final summary of key issues in each chapter.
Assessment: This is the definitive reference for the latest information on the ethical, moral, and legal issues inherent in studies involving individuals that are prone to violence. No other book provides this guidance to research clinicians. I highly recommend this to social scientists and professionals in related fields who are concerned with balancing science, ethics, and law as they conduct research with high-risk populations.