The Military Biomedical Complex: Are Service Members a Vulnerable Population?
50 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2019 Last revised: 19 Nov 2019
Date Written: 2019
In the realm of research with human subjects, vulnerability is an elusive concept. Its essence lies in an asymmetry — of information, access, status, power, or control. Yet vulnerability is also context-dependent, meaning a person becomes vulnerable to something when placed in a certain situation. While there is widespread agreement that research guidelines should provide protections for those who are vulnerable, there is less consensus on who is encompassed by the term and what protections are appropriate. In the United States, regulatory guidelines take a categorical approach to defining vulnerability — federal protections identify prisoners, children, neonates, human fetuses, and pregnant women as vulnerable populations, and specify additional protections for research that includes participants from these groups. This Article examines the notion of vulnerability in human subjects research as it applies to members of the armed forces.
Keywords: Research ethics, military medicine, Common Rule
JEL Classification: I18, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation