Conference analyzes ethics in research

When you have blood taken for a test or have tissue removed for a biopsy, it might be used for medical research. While there are clear benefits to such research, medical and healthcare professionals need to be aware of cultural and confidentiality concerns on the part of patients.

Members of the Creighton University (Omaha, NE) faculty and others presented on those topics as part of "The Use of Human Tissue and Public Trust: The Chasm Between Science and Ethics," a conference sponsored by Creighton's Center for Health Policy and Ethics (CHPE) and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity.

The conference was designed to expand awareness about the importance of weighing the benefits of knowledge derived from tissue research against such issues as cultural traditions and beliefs; exploring the concept of trust among patients, especially from the perspectives of populations vulnerable to exploitation or marginalization; and identifying gaps in communication and understanding between the science community and the public regarding the use of human tissue.

The event was designed for physicians, physician assistants, nurses, healthcare educators, public health professionals, medical students, and members of the public.

CHPE professor John R. Stone, MD, PhD, gave a presentation on "Ethical Issues — Trust and Trustworthiness, Dispelling Myths." Stone has often focused on social justice in his work, particularly health inequalities that affect minority populations.

Other Creighton faculty members involved in the conference included CHPE director Amy Haddad, PhD, Mabel L. Criss Endowed Chair in the Health Sciences, who was the primary organizer of the conference, and Donald Frey, MD, vice president for health sciences.

The Center for Healthcare Policy and Ethics is home of Creighton's master's of science in healthcare ethics, which is offered entirely online. The interdisciplinary program educates students who must deal with bioethics as part of their duties (such as physicians, nurses, public health workers, attorneys, and chaplains) on the various issues and factors involved in the field, giving them greater ability to explain, justify, and analyze ethical decisions in healthcare.