Volume 18, Issue 2, Fall 2004
Joseph P. DeMarco, Maurie Markman
The Research Misconception
Recently, several researchers and philosophers argued that clinical research trials are not therapy. Their position is based on foundational research ethics documents, such as the Belmont Report, on conceptual analysis, and on the general way clinical trials are conducted. After examining and rejecting these arguments, we claim that good research is consistent with good therapy; that often trials are good therapy; and that a blanket attack on clinical trials as non-therapeutic creates a research misconception. This misconception is potentially harmful because it could weaken trial recruitment, could adversely affect funding for trials, and could overturn needed moral safeguards on therapeutic trials. Our more careful and accurate analysis of the nature of clinical trials can avoid such problems.