The Scientist-Citizen Dilemma and Moral Stress

Many of the ethical challenges faced by researchers conducting community-based studies with persons addicted to street drugs can be understood in terms of the “scientist-citizen dilemma.” This dilemma arises when researcher’s ethical obligation to produce scientifically valid knowledge conflicts with their sense of moral responsibility to help participants living in poverty with little access to treatment.

Frontline research staff engaged in the practical process of moral agency who encounter such dilemmas on a daily basis often experience moral stress when they cannot actualize these dual values via their work. Such stress may lead them to take actions that while assisting research participants in need jeopardize the validity of the study conducted.  In a recent article, Dr. Celia B. Fisher and her colleagues examined the consequences of moral stress among drug use community researchers and the organizational climates that can reduce or exacerbate these moral conflicts.

To read the full article, please see:

Fisher, C. B., True, G., Alexander, L., & Fried, A. L. (2013). Moral stress, moral practice, and ethical climate in community-based drug-use research: Views from the front line. AJOB Primary Research4(3), 27-38.


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