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October 15, 1982

The Social Context of Medical Research

JAMA. 1982;248(15):1909. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330150083037

The purpose of this book, according to its editors, "is to discuss medical research in its social context and to explore the many issues and problems that arise with regard to both the conduct of research and the application of research findings." It seems to me that this anthology accomplishes these objectives well.

The contributors to this book represent such diverse fields as medicine, ethics, public health, sociology, and administration. In contrast with most anthologies, this one shows clear evidence that the contributors were given careful instructions regarding their own and each other's assignments. Consequently, there is remarkably little duplication.

The first five chapters are concerned with problems that arise in the planning and performance of research. First there is an overview of the types of value conflicts presented by research and the ways in which various public agencies act to attempt their resolution. This is exemplified in a detailed