Codes of Practice and Informed Consent

The following is a synopsis of the document “Human Rights Guidelines for Nurses in Clinical and other Research” (American Nurses Association, 1985). In general, the American Nurses’ Association is concerned with the protection of the rights of both nurses who are researchers or participating in the research process and those participants who are being researched (American Nurses Association, 1985).

Each individual has the right to decide what procedures will take place during the research in which he has chosen to participate and the possible risks that might incur. The dignity and privacy of participants should be protected as well as freedom from mistreatment in any way. These rights should be provided to all and not be affected by bias on the part of the researcher. This protection is ever so important in the protection of the rights of those who may be unable to speak for themselves such as those who are mentally challenged, those in institutions, or minors. Prisoners who therefore lack freedom pose yet another need for the protection of rights when involved in a research study. Participants also need to know that they can discontinue participation in the study at any time. The duty of ensuring that these rights are protected is assumed by the nurse researcher or those nurses involved with the research process (American Nurses Association, 1985).

A most important way in which these rights are upheld is through the process of informed consent which can be oral or written and must be stated in each participant document or chart (American Nurses Association, 1985). Informed consent is based upon the ethical principle of autonomy. It is “the ethical principle known as respect for persons. This principle provides individuals with the right to make free, uncoerced, and informed decisions. Autonomy is the ethical principle that provides the framework of full disclosure and informed consent” (Beauchamp & Childress, 2008). It should be insured that all participants are informed that “Any participation in a study should be strictly voluntary” (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013).
The nurse researcher should also be afforded the protection of rights. Nurses involved in the research process need to be aware of the changing environment of healthcare and the ethical issues involved. Knowledge of the role and job description of the nurse researcher and those nurses involved in the process can provide protection of the rights of the nurse. Study data must be treated confidentially at all times including its destruction when no longer needed. A process in which the reporting of human rights violations must also be available to the nurse researcher or those nurses involved in the process of research. The nurse should also be afforded protection in the reporting of these events (American Nurses Association, 1985).
Finally, “Researchers need to protect their research participants; develop a trust with them; promote the integrity of research; guard against misconduct and impropriety that might reflect on their organizations or institutions; that come with new, challenging problems” (Israel & Hay, 2006).


American Nurses Association (1985). Human rights guidelines for nurses in clinical and other research. Retrieved from
Beauchamp, T. & Childress, J. (2008). Principles of biomedical ethics (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Israel, M. & Hay, I. (2006). Research ethics for social scientists: Between ethical conduct and regulatory compliance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Leedy, P. & Ormrod, J. (2013). Practical research: Planning and design (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


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