Research Ethics

In research, various ethical dilemmas can occur. Ethical dilemma arises typically when human subjects are used in a study. One of the cases that portray an ethical dilemma in research is when homeless people were used in drug trials by a third party in research. Many homeless people are being used in research for psychiatric drug trials. Reports indicate that researchers take advantage of a vulnerable population such as the homeless and the poor. Because such a population will do anything to earn a living, researchers tend to take advantage of them. Some drug manufacturing companies look for a mentally ill person to search for willing participants. It is essential to note that mentally ill persons’ judgment may be easily compromised. This raises ethical concerns regarding the research trial of manufactured drugs. Healthy individuals often do not want to risk their lives for such tests if they are paid heavily, but poor or less privileged people are always willing to do anything to make a difference in their lives. The article that discusses the use of humans for drug trials states that some participants end up dying in the process because the researchers fail to follow the required procedures.

The use of the homeless or the poor population in research trials is a violation of the ethical code of conduct. The ethical principles that were breached in such tests include the element of informed consent, the researcher’s skills, goodness, and the vulnerability of the selected participants. The poor and homeless are a vulnerable group of the population who may not be able to protect themselves in such drug trials. The researcher may not have the necessary skills to protect the participants from the dangers of the study trial; hence, they may end up dying. The element of beneficence stipulates that research should not harm. However, the drugs being tested have unknown risks that can affect the health of the persons involved in the study. Under informed consent, the participant should clearly understand the risk of participating in the research. However, when mentally ill persons are used, the ability to understand the risk is questionable.

Research should however not take advantage of human populations who are vulnerable by offering incentives to lure them into taking part in a study that may otherwise be risky for their health. This is a breach of the research ethics code. If humans are to be used in research, they should be well informed of the risk associated and get their consent to be used in the research. The participants must fully understand the risks of taking part in the study.



Fouka, G., & Mantzorou, M. (2011). What are the major ethical issues in conducting research? Is there a conflict between research ethics and the nature of nursing? Health Science Journal, 5(1), 3–14.

Elliot, C. (2014). The best-selling, billion-dollar pills tested on homeless people: How the destitute and mentally ill are being used as human lab rats.