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Tuskkegee Syphilis Study Essay

1149 words - 5 pages

Summary of Article
African American men were targeted for a Syphilis study in 1932. It became one of the most unethical studies ever in United States history. This story became widely publicized in 1972 which caused the research to cease. Unethical research such as not disclosing the real reasons for the study left men sick and vulnerable. It eventually affected the men and their families. The effects of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study were felt for many years and many generations later. One positive outcome was the implementation of the National Research Act of 1974. The unethical acts could have been avoided by working from a “I treat you the way I want to be treated” philosophy.

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“A report was issued by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare that stated that the study was “scientifically unsound and its results are disproportionately meager compared with known risks to the human subjects involved” (Tuskegee Syphilis Study, 2010). Hearings were led by Senator Edward Kennedy. Those hearings resulted in the 1974 passage to the National Research Act of 1974. “A lawsuit was filed in 1973, on behalf of the survivors of the study and the heirs and representatives of the participants who had since died, against the various federal government agencies, the State of Alabama, the private foundation that provided original funding, and individual physicians working for the U.S. Public Health Service. Eventually, a monetary settlement of $10 million was reached with the parties” (Tuskegee Syphilis Study, 2013). At a ceremony held at the White House In 1997, President Bill Clinton publically apologized for the role played by the federal government in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. He acknowledged that what the government did was shameful. He apologized on behalf of the United States Government.

“In general, research must be designed so that a participant does not suffer physical harm, discomfort, pain, embarrassment, or loss of privacy” (Cooper and Schindler, p 32). Participants were not offered informed consent. The doctors did not discuss the risks of the research, they were not educated, and they didn’t know to ask about the details. An additional unethical behavior in this study was that 400 men who had syphilis didn’t know that they were receiving only placebos. Treatments were available but withheld from the participants. Syphilis causes sores, rashes, blood vessel and heart problems. These men suffered physical harm during this study because they received no medication. These men were also deceived because they did not know the true reason for the study, which was to see what effects syphilis had on African American men.

The injured parties in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study were initially 600 African American men. Because the study lasted for 40 years, the injured parties eventually included spouses and children. These participants were not safeguarded as they should have been. “In general research must be designed so that a participant does not suffer physical harm, discomfort, pain, embarrassment, or loss of privacy” (Cooper & Schindler, p 32). These men received no treatment for the disease even after it was available.

The unethical behavior affected individuals and society in many different ways. One example is...

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