The ethics of research related to healthcare in developing countries


Published 24/04/2002

HRRDC report cover
Health worker

Misunderstandings can occur when sponsors of research are unfamiliar with the cultural traditions of the country in which it is conducted. There will often be cultural differences between those organising or funding the research and the participants, for example, differing perspectives on respect for family and individuals, and the role of the community.

Prospective participants in research may have experience of very different traditions of healthcare and hold varying beliefs about illness and disease. Views about the causation of illness may differ from the ‘western’ medical model.

Participants will often be unfamiliar with the concept of research and may be sensitive to some practices, such as taking blood samples. It is critically important that the local social, cultural and economic context is taken into account when research is designed.