Imagine if you became a volunteer in a research study? Where you don’t have rights to ask questions of procedures being done to you or maybe choose without the option to refuse. One of the worst medical experiences in history was the Tuskegee experiment. In Macon County, Alabama the Public Health Services along with the Tuskegee Institute started a study in 1932 and continued for about 40 years. It was a research study that involved 600 men which 399 had syphilis and 201 didn’t.
The purpose for this study was to record the natural history of syphilis in blacks which as called the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” (CDC, 2009). In the 1900’s they did not receive which is known today as the Standard code of Ethics that consist of informed consent, inducements, deception, and debriefing. So the men were lied to and told they were being treated for “bad blood”. They suffered with unnecessary procedures and some losing their lives due to the untreated disease.
In exchanged these poor black men received free meals, free medical and burial insurance. Government officials ended the experiment in 1972 because it was reveal to national media. But, by this time 100 men had died from advanced ntreated syphilis although they had found the cure. Today because of that we are fortunate to have which is called the informed consent. Informed consent allows us as human beings to be informed the purpose of any type of research being done, the estimated time of the study and all the procedures that will be done throughout the study (APA, 10).
We also have the right to refuse to end the research study although not completed. However, for those men involved in the Tuskegee Study informed consent was not an option. These men were lie to and not informed that the study was for syphilis not for bad blood nor they did agree to rocedures, treatments they would experience. Inducements offered to participants who are involved in a researched study by professional services or financial compensation, being Psychologist or researchers must clarify the kind of services as well as the risks.
They should make efforts to avoid offering excessive or inappropriate financial or other inducements to obtain research participants, mainly when it might tend to coerce participants (APA, 2010). Here there were low poverty black men taken advantage of the inducements offered, knowing that they did not have money for medical insurance and promised to be ured at no cost. It’s likely that having a disease cure at no cost is an offered an individual will not turn down.
Deception in research is identified as; a Psychologist is not to deceive prospective participants about research that is reasonably expected to cause physical pain or severe or emotional stress (APA, 2010). Deception was a big thing in the Tuskegee Study for example; these men were sent a letter with a deceptive title “Last chance knowing they were actually singing up for spinal tap, which is a needle stuck in their backs that can be painful as well as risky if not giving the appropriate way and even ausing damage to the spinal cord.
If the Ethical Code had been standard back then debriefing could had made a huge difference. In APA debriefing requires the Psychologist to provide a prompt opportunity for the participants to obtain appropriate information about the nature of the results, and conclusion of the research and they must take responsible steps to correct any misconceptions that the participants may have which the Psychologist is aware. When the Psychologist becomes aware research procedures have caused harm to participants, they take responsible steps to minimize the harm (APA, 2010).
Participants should always have the right to ask questions or clarify any doubts of any study. In 1972 Penicillin was found to be the treatment to cure syphilis but was not giving to the men. Researchers and Psychologist did not try to minimize the harm to these men or try to stop the spreading of the disease being aware that by doing so more lives could be safe. All they did was lied to them knowing they could have made a difference by not spreading it to their wife’s and children. On May 16, 1997 President Bill Clinton apologized to all survivors and family involved n the Tuskegee Study on behalf of the Nation.