Subversive Subjects: Rule-Breaking and Deception in Clinical Trials

Posted: 1 Mar 2014  

Rebecca Dresser

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: January 21, 2014

Abstract

Research subjects don’t always conform to research requirements. When their personal interests conflict with the demands of participation, some subjects surreptitiously break the rules. These subjects are subversive — they undermine the research endeavor. In rejecting the restrictions research imposes, subversive subjects diminish the value of research results. From one vantage point, subversive subjects engage in unethical behavior. They create risks to themselves and others; they also disregard ethical responsibilities to adhere to research agreements and tell the truth. At the same time, subversive subjects expose ethical problems in the design and conduct of clinical trials. Features of the research environment create fertile ground for subject subversion. Intensified policing and guidance are two common strategies for reducing subject subversion, but collaborative reforms are more consistent with the partnership model of clinical research.

Suggested Citation

Dresser, Rebecca, Subversive Subjects: Rule-Breaking and Deception in Clinical Trials (January 21, 2014). Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 41, No. 4, 2014; Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-02-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2401955

Rebecca Dresser (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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