Ethics & Society Newsfeed: February 12, 2016

When the hospital serves McDonald’s
In peddling unhealthy meals, health centers fail both their patients and their employees.

Pharma Bro goes to Washington
A Congressional hearing with Martin Shkreli reveals the brokenness of the prescription-drug market.

The research pirates of the Dark Web
After getting shut down late last year, a website that allows free access to paywalled academic papers has sprung back up in a shadowy corner of the Internet.

Johns Hopkins becomes first center in country to offer HIV-positive to HIV-positive organ transplants
Johns Hopkins announced this week that it had received approval from the nation’s organ-sharing authority to become the first hospital in the United States to conduct transplants involving HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients.

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Ethics & Society Newsfeed: January 22, 2016

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Record 30,000 Organ Transplants Performed Last Year
Doctors attribute the 5% increase in donations in 2015 to Americans’ growing willingness to donate organs.

Why We Need to Rethink HIV Attitudes
Robert Klitzman argues it is time to re-examine attitudes and laws criminalizing potential HIV exposure.

Advancing Medical Professionalism in US Military Detainee Treatment
A bioethical argument that current medical ethics standards provide a sound basis for military medical practice, even in situations where military missions must be reconciled with patient needs.

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Issues of Research Ethics in the Facebook ‘Mood Manipulation’ Study: The Importance of Multiple Perspectives

 

By: Michelle Broaddus, Ph.D.

A new study using Facebook data to study “emotional contagion,” and the ensuing backlash of its publication offers the opportunity to examine several ethical principles in research. One of the pillars of ethically conducted research is balancing the risks to the individual participants against the potential benefits to society or scientific knowledge. While the study’s effects were quite small, the authors argue that “given the massive scale of social networks such as Facebook, even small effects can have large aggregated consequences.” However, participants were not allowed to give informed consent, which constitutes a risk of the research and the major source of the backlash.

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Issues of Research Ethics in the Facebook ‘Mood Manipulation’ Study: The Importance of Multiple Perspectives (full text)

 

By: Michelle Broaddus, Ph.D.

A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a mood manipulation experiment conducted by Facebook scientists during one week in 2012 that suggests evidence of “emotional contagion,” or the spread of positive and negative affect between people. The backlash to this publication has been significant. As two examples, Slate.com published a piece entitled “Facebook’s Unethical Experiment: It intentionally manipulated users’ emotions without their knowledge” and The Atlantic’s piece, “Even the Editor of Facebook’s Mood Study Thought It Was Creepy.”

Continue reading “Issues of Research Ethics in the Facebook ‘Mood Manipulation’ Study: The Importance of Multiple Perspectives (full text)”