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April 5, 1976

Ethical Constraints and Imperatives in Medical Research

Author Affiliations

Institute on Human Values in Medicine Philadelphia

JAMA. 1976;235(14):1503-1504. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260400061041

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This book attempts to reverse a trend in the discussion of ethical questions associated with medical research. Instead of concentrating on the ways in which modern research methods raise problems about individual rights, the author's main premise is that such research is morally justified in order that medicine may better understand how to avoid injury. Visscher says, "If it is, as seems obvious, obligatory upon physicians to learn how to do no harm, then scientific investigation, including that on human subjects becomes a necessity for an ethical medical profession."

Although brevity is not ipso facto to be commended, the precise statements of the major ethical issues in medical research found in this writing are indeed worthy of praise. In only 112 pages, Visscher is able to inform his readers of the problems in a number of important areas, including genetic engineering, studies on children, studies in psychology and psychiatry, research